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War and Children 








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Survey of Psychological Reactions 15 

Reaction to Destruction 20 

Five Types of Air-Raid Anxiety 25 

Reaction to Evacuation 37 

Mother and Child Relationship in the Early Stages 54 

Normal and Abnormal Outlets 64 

Forms of Gratification^ 76 

Practical Conclusions — ^ 83 



Hampstead Nursery 93 

Shock of Separation 97 

Further Observations 103 

-Reaction to Air-Raids 114 

Parents and Children 122 

The Country House 130 

Children in the Country 135 

Parent Understanding 142 

Reunion after Separation 150 

Artificial Families 156 

Conflicting Attitudes 162 

Children's Reactions to War 175 


The Foster Parents' Plan for War Children has been work- 
ing with children since 1936 when Spain's children were 
subjected to bombardments. Later we worked in France 
caring for French, Polish, Dutch and Belgian children. When 
France fell we took up our work in England. 

More than 20,000 cases of children have been studied by 
our staff members since our work began ; at no time have 
we had any work to compare with the book, War and Children 
By Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham. 

Miss Freud and Mrs. Burlingham direct three wartime 
nurseries in England for the Foster Parents' Plan. The material 
for the book was gathered at the nurseries, which are main- 
tained by voluntary contributions from America. 

WAR AND CHILDREN is an outstanding contribution 
in the field of psychology and is as valuable to those working 
with children on the home front as it is to those working with 
children in actual bombed areas. 

It is a record of children in modern war told honestly 
and completely, by two of the world's outstanding child 

EDNA BLUE, Executive-Chairman 
Foster Parents' Plan for War Children, Inc. 


Work in War Nurseries is based on the 
idea that the care and education of young 
children should not take second place in war- 
time and should not be reduced to wartime 
level. Adults can live under emergency con- 
ditions and, if necessary, on emergency rations. 
But the situation in the decisive years of bodily 
and mental development is entirely different. 
It has already been generally recognised, and 
provision has been made accordingly, that the 
lack of essential foods, vitamins, etc., in early 
childhood will cause lasting bodily malfor- 
mation in later years, even if harmful con- 
sequences are not immediately apparent. It is 
not generally recognised that the same is 
true for the mental development of the child. 
Whenever certain essential needs are not ful- 
filled, lasting psychological malformations will 
be the consequence. These essential elements 
are: the need for personal attachment, for 
emotional stability, and for permanency of 
educational influence. 

War conditions, through the inevitable 
breaking-up of family life, deprive children of 
the natural background for their emotional and 
mental development. The present generation 


of children has, therefore, little chance to build 
up its future psychological health and normal- 
ity which will be needed for the reconstruc- 
tion of the world after the war. To counteract 
these deficiencies, war-time care of children 
has to be more elaborate and more carefully 
thought out than in ordinary times of peace. 

On the basis of these convictions our efforts 
are directed towards four main achievements: 
To repair damage already caused 
by war conditions to the bodily and men- 
tal health of children. We, therefore, 
accept children who have suffered through 
bombing, shelter sleeping, indiscriminate 
evacuation and billeting. We try to serve 
on the one hand as a convalescent home 
and on the other, whenever necessary, as 
a home for problem children. 
To prevent further harm being done 
to the children. If small babies have to 
be separated from their mothers we try to 
keep them in comparative safety within 
easy reach of their families. We provide 
every facility for visiting so that the baby 
can develop an attachment for and knowl- 
edge of its mother and be prepared for 
a later return to normal family life. For 
the older children we make the necessary 
provision for ordinary peace-time educa- 
tion and, again, to try to preserve the 

remnants of family attachments so far as 

To do research on the essential psycho- 
logical needs of children; to study their 
reactions to bombing, destruction and early 
separation from their families; to collect 
facts about the harmful consequences 
whenever their essential needs remain un- 
satisfied; to observe the general influence 
of community life at an early age on their 

To instruct people interested in the 
forms of education based on psychological 
knowledge of the child; and generally to 
work out a pattern of nursery life which 
can serve as a model for peace-time edu- 
cation in spite of the conditions of war. 
The Hampstead Nurseries consist of three 
houses, which are financed by the Foster Par- 
ents Plan for War Children whose American 
headquarters are at 55 West 42nd Street. 

5 Netherhall Gardens, London, N. W. 3, a 
large residential nursery for babies and 
young children. 

13 Wedderburn Road, London, N.W.3, 
a day nursery run for the children from 
the residential nursery and some outsiders. 
Newbarn, Lindsell, near Chelmsford, Es- 
sex, a country house for evacuated London 
children from 3-6 years. 

The Nurseries, further, give lodging and 
paid work to mothers while they nurse their 
own babies, and extend hospitality to the par- 
ents of all children. 

The staff consists of highly trained workers 
in the field of medicine, psychology, educa- 
tion, nursing, and domestic science; besides 20 
girls who receive training in the various de- 
partments. Most of the trained workers are 
refugees from the continent who have done 
specialised work in their own countries. 



All our bigger children have had their fair 
share of war experiences. All of them have 
witnessed the air raids either in London or 
in the provinces. A large percentage of them 
has seen their houses destroyed or damaged. 
All of them have seen their family life dis- 
solved, whether by separation from or by death 
of the father. All of them are separated from 
their mothers and have entered community 
life at an age which is not usually considered 
ripe for it. The questions arise which part 
these experiences play in the psychological life 
of the individual child, how far the child 
acquires understanding of what is going on 
around it, how it reacts emotionally, how far 
its anxiety is aroused, and what normal or 
abnormal outlets it will find to deal with 
these experiences which are thrust on it. 

It can be safely said that all the children 
who were over two years at the time of the 
London "blitz" have acquired knowledge of 


the significance of air raids. They all recog- 
nise the noise of flying aeroplanes; they dis- 
tinguish vaguely between the sounds of falling 
bombs and anti-aircraft guns. They realise 
that the house will fall down when bombed 
and that people are often killed or get hurt in 
falling houses. They know that fires can be 
started by incendiaries and that roads are 
often blocked as a result of bombing. They 
fully understand the significance of taking shel- 
ter. Some children who have lived in deep 
shelters will even judge the safety of a shelter 
according to its depth under the earth. The 
necessity to make them familiar with their gas 
masks may give them some ideas about a 
gas attack, though we have never met a child 
for whom this particular danger had any real 

The children seem to have no difficulty in 
understanding what it means when their fa- 
thers join the Forces. We even overhear talk 
among the children where they compare their 
fathers' military ranks and duties. A child, 
for instance, with its father in the navy or 
air force, will be offended if somebody by 
mistake refers to the father as being "in the 
army." As far as the reasoning processes of 
the child are concerned, the absence of the 
father seems to be accounted for in this 


Children are similarly ready to take in 
knowledge about the various occupations of 
their mothers, though the constant change of 
occupation makes this slightly more difficult. 
Mothers of three-year-olds will change back- 
wards and forwards between the occcupations 
of railway porter, factory worker, bus con- 
ductor, milk cart driver, etc. They will visit 
their children in their varying uniforms and 
will proudly tell them about their new war 
work until the children are completely con- 
fused. Though the children seem proud of 
their fathers' uniforms, they often seem to re- 
sent it and feel very much estranged when 
their mothers appear in such unexpected guises. 

It is still more difficult for all children to 
get any understanding of the reason why 
they are being evacuated and cannot stay in 
the place where their mothers are. In the 
case of our children, as in the case of many 
others, this is further aggravated by the fact 
that they actually did live in London with 
their mothers during the worst dangers and 
were sent to the country afterwards when 
London seemed quite peaceful. They reason 
with some justification that they can live wher- 
ever their mothers do and that if "home" is 
as much in danger as all that, their mothers 
should not be there either. This, of course, 
concerns the bigger children of five or more. 


The understanding of catastrophes, like the 
death of father, has little to do with reasoning. 
In these cases children meet the usual psycho- 
logical difficulties of grasping the significance 
of death at such an early age. Their attitude 
to the happening is completely a matter of 

We may, of course, be often wrong in 
assuming that children "understand" the hap- 
penings around them. In talking, they only 
use the proper words for them but without 
the meaning attached. Words like "army", 
"navy", "air force", may mean to them strange 
countries to which their fathers have gone. 
America, for the children, the place where 
all the good things, especially all the parcels 
come from, was discovered the other day 
to mean to one child at least "a merry car". 
The word "bombing" is often used indiscrim- 
inately for all manners of destruction of 
unwanted objects. "London" is the word used 
for the children's former homes, irrespective 
of the fact whether the child now lives in 
Essex or still in Hampstead. 

Several of our children in Wedderburn 
Road used to say in talking: "When I was 
still in London . . ." 

And one boy of four once explained in 
a London shop, to the shop assistant's great 
astonishment: "I used to live in London, but 


London is all bombed and gone, and all the 
houses have fallen down". 

He was unable to realise the fact that the 
comparatively unbombed street in which he 
now lived with us was still the same city. 
"Home" is the place to which all children are 
determined to return, irrespective of the fact 
that in most cases they are aware of its destruc- 
tion. "War", above everything else, signifies 
the period of time for which children have to 
be separated from their parents. 

A striking example of such "misunderstand- 
ing" was Pamela, a girl of four and half years, 
who as we thought, had perfectly grasped the 
meaning of evacuation. She was a thrice 
bombed child, lived in Wedderburn Road, and 
like all others waited for the opening of our 
country house. We had carefully explained to 
all the children that they were being trans- 
ferred to the country and the reason for it. 

But when at last, after weeks of expectation 
— because the lease of the country house did 
not materialise — she stood in our front hall, all 
dressed and ready, waiting for the American 
ambulance car to take her out, she exclaimed 
joyfully; "The war is over and we are going 
to the country. It has lasted a long time!" 

The longing for the Country House, which 
had been the centre of interest for the Nursery 
children for some weeks, had suddenly got 


confused in her mind with the more general 
longing for the end of the war, which would 
as all the children firmly believed, take them 
all back to their former homes and to their 

In this war, more than in former ones, chil- 
dren are frequently to be found directly on 
the scenes of battle Though, here in England, 
they are spared the actual horror of seeing peo- 
ple fight around them, they are not spared 
sights of destruction, death, and injury from 
air raids. Even when removed from the places 
of the worst danger there is no certainty, as 
some of our cases show, that they will not 
meet new bombing incidents at places to which 
they were sent for safety. General sympathy 
has been aroused by the idea that little chil- 
dren, all innocently, should thus come into 
close contact with the horrors of the war. It is 
this situation which led many people to expect 
that children would receive traumatic shocks 
from air raids and would develop abnormal 
reactions very similar to the traumatic or war 
neuroses of soldiers in the last war. 

We can only describe our observation on 
the basis of our own case material; which 
excludes children who have received severe 


bodily injuries in air raids though, as men- 
tioned before, it does not exclude children who 
have been bombed repeatedly and partly buried 
in debris. So far as we can notice, there were 
no signs of traumatic shock to be observed in 
these children. If these bombing incidents 
occur when small children are in the care 
either of their own mothers or a familiar 
mother substitute, they do not seem to be par- 
ticularly affected by them. Their experience 
remains an accident, in line with other acci- 
dents of childhood. This observation is borne 
out by the reports of nurses or social workers 
in London County Council Rest Centres 
where children used to arrive, usually in the 
middle of the night, straight from their 
bombed houses. They also found that children 
who arrived together with their own families 
showed little excitement and no undue distur- 
bance. They slept and ate normally and 
played with whatever toys they had rescued 
or which might be provided. It 1 is a widely 
different matter when children, during an 
experience of this kind, are separated from or 
even lose their parents. 

It is a common misunderstanding of the 
child's nature which leads people to suppose 
that children will be saddened by the sight of 
destruction and aggression. Children between 
the ages of one and two years, when put to- 


gether in a play-pen will bite each other, pull 
each other's hair and steal each other's toys 
without regard for the other child's unhappi- 
ness. They are passing through a stage of 
development where destruction and aggression 
play one of the leading parts. If we observe 
young children at play, we notice that they 
will destroy their toys, pull off the arms and 
legs of their dolls or soldiers, puncture their 
balls, smash whatever is breakable, and will 
only mind the result because complete destruc- 
tion of the toy blocks further play. The more 
their strength and independence are growing 
the more they will have to be watched so as 
not to create too much damage, not to hurt 
each other or those weaker than themselves. 
We often say, half jokingly, that there is con- 
tinual war raging in a nursery We mean by 
this, that at this time of life destructive and 
aggressive impulses are still at work in chil- 
dren in a manner in which they only recur in 
grown-up life when they are let loose for the 
purposes of war. 

It is one of the recognised aims of educa- 
tion to deal with the aggressiveness of the 
child's nature, i. e. in the course of the fir?t 
four of five years to change the child's own 
attitude towards these impulses in himself. The 
wish to hurt people, and later the wish to 
destroy objects, undergo all sorts of changes. 


They are usually first restricted, then sup- 
pressed by commands and prohibitions; a little 
later they are repressed, which means that they 
disappear from the child's consciousness. The 
child does not dare any more to have knowl- 
edge of these wishes. There is always the 
danger that they might return from the uncon- 
scious; therefore, all sorts of protections are 
built up against them — the cruel child devel- 
ops pity, the destructive child will become 
hesitant and over careful. If education is 
handled intelligently the main part of these 
aggressive impulses will be directed away from 
their primitive aim of doing harm to somebody 
or something, and will be used to fight the 
difficulties of the outer world — to accomplish 
tasks of all kinds, to measure one's strength in 
competition and to use it generally to "do 
good" instead of "being bad" as the original 
impulse demanded. 

In the light of these considerations it is 
easier to determine what the present war con- 
ditions, with their incidents of wholesale de- 
struction may do to a child. Instead of turning 
away from them in instinctive horror, as peo- 
ple seem to expect, the child may turn towards 
them with primitive excitement. The real 
danger is not that the child, caught up all 
innocently in the whirlpool of the war, will be 
shocked into illness. The danger lies in the 


fact that the destruction raging in the outer 
world may meet the very real aggressiveness 
which rages in the inside of the child. At the 
age when education should start to deal with 
these impulses confirmation should not be 
given from the outside world that the same 
impulses are uppermost in other people. Chil- 
dren will play joyfully on bombed sites and 
around bomb craters, they will play with 
blasted bits of furniture and throw bricks from 
crumbled walls at each other. But it becomes 
impossible to educate them towards a repres- 
sion of, a reaction against destruction while 
they are doing so. After their first years of 
life they fight against their own wishes to do 
away with people of whom they are jealous, 
who disturb or disappoint them, or who offend 
their childish feelings in some other way. It 
must be very difficult for them to accomplish 
this task of fighting their own death wishes 
when, at the same time, people are killed and 
hurt every day around them. Children hav 
to be safeguarded against the primitive horror's 
of the war, not because horrors and atrocities 
are so strange to them, but because we want{ 
them at this decisive stage of their develop- 
ment to overcome and estrange themselves 
from the primitive and atrocious wishes of { 
their own infantile nature. 



What is true about the child's attitude to 
destruction applies in a certain measure to the 
subject of anxiety. Children are, of course, 
afraid of air raids, but their fear is neither as 
universal nor as overwhelming as has been 
expected. An explanation is required as to 
why it is present in some cases, absent in 
others, comparatively mild in most and rather 
violent in certain types of children. 

It will be easier to answer these practical 
questions if we draw on our theoretical knowl- 
edge about the motives for fear and anxiety 
reactions in human beings. We have learned 
that there are three main reasons for the 
development of fear reactions: 

An individual is afraid quite naturally and 
sensibly when there is some real danger - 
present in the outside world which threatens 
either his safety or his whole existence. His 
fear will be all the greater the more he knows 
about the seriousness of the danger. His fear 
will urge him to adopt precautionary measures. 
Under its influence he will either fight it or if 
that is impossible, try to escape from it. Only 
when the danger is of overwhelming extent 
and suddenness will he be shocked and para- 
lysed into inaction. This so-called "real " 
a n x i e t y " plays its part in the way in which 
children are afraid of air raids. They fear 


them as far as they can understand what is 
happening. As described above they have, in 
spite of their youth, acquired a certain degree 
of knowledge of this new danger. But it 
would be a mistake to over-rate this under- 
standing, and consequently, to over-rate the 
amount or the permanency of this real fear 
of air raids. Knowledge and reason only play 
a limited part in a child's life. Its interest 
quickly turns away from the real things in 
the outer world, especially when they are un- 
pleasant, and reverts back to its own childish 
interests, to its toys, its games and to its 
phantasies. The danger in the outer world 
which it recognises at one moment and to 
which it answers with its fear, is put aside in 
another moment. Precautions are not kept 
up, and the fear gives way to an attitude of 
utter disregard. 

There is the observation made by one of our 
colleagues during a day-light air raid in a 
surface shelter into which a mother had shep- 
herded her little son of school age. For a 
while they both listened to the dropping of 
the bombs; then the boy lost interest and 
became engrossed in a story book which he had 
brought with him. The mother tried to inter- 
rupt his reading several times with anxious 

He always returned to his book after a sec- 

ond, until she at last said in an angry and 
scolding tone: "Drop your book and attend to 
the air raid". 

We made exactly the same observations in 
the Children's Centre at the time of the De- 
cember, March, and May raids. When our 
une.xploded bomb lay in the neighbouring 
garden, the children began by being mildly 
interested and afraid. They learned to keep 
away from glass windows and to avoid the 
entrance into the garden. By keeping up 
continual talk about the possible explosion we 
could have frightened them into continuation 
of that attitude. Whenever we let the subject 
alone their interest flagged. They forgot about 
the menace from the glass whenever they re- 
turned to their accustomed games; when the 
threat from outside lasted more than a week 
they began to get cross with it and denied its 

In spite of the bomb still being unremoved 
they suddenly declared: "The bomb is gone 
and we shall go into the garden!" 

There is nothing outstanding in this behav- 
iour of children towards the presence of real 
danger and real fear. It is only one example 
of the way in which, at this age, they deal 
with the facts of reality whenever they become 
unpleasant. They drop their contact with 
reality, they deny the facts, get rid of their 


fear in this manner and return, apparently 
undisturbed, to the pursuits and interests of 
their own childish world. 

The second reason for anxiety can best be 
understood by reverting to the child's attitude 
towards destruction and aggression which we 
have described before. After the first years 
of life the individual learns to criticise and 
overcome in himself certain instinctive wishes, 
or rather he learns to refuse them conscious 
expression. He learns that it is bad to kill, 
to hurt and to destroy, and would like to 
believe that he has no further wish to do any 
of these things. But he can only keep up this 
attitude when the people in the outer world do 
likewise. When he sees killing and destruction 
going on outside it arouses his fear that the 
impulses which he has only a short while ago 
buried in himself will be awakened again. 

We have described above how the small 
child in whom these inhibitions against aggres- 
sion have not yet been established is free of 
the abhorrence of air raids. The slightly older 
child who has just been through this fight with 
itself will, on the other hand, be particularly 
sensitive to their menace. When it has only just 
learned to curb its own aggressive impulses, it 
will have real outbreaks of anxiety when bombs 
come down and do damage around it. 

This type of anxiety we have only seen in 


one girl of another age group, ten years old, 
who ardently wished to leave England alto- 
gether and to return to Canada, where she had 
been born, where everything was peaceful and 
"no horrid things to see". 

The third type of anxiety is of a completely 
different nature. There is no education with- 
out fear. Children are afraid of disobeying 
the commands and prohibitions of their elders 
either because they fear punishments or be- 
cause they fear losing their parents' love when- 
ever they are naughty. This fear of authority 
develops a little later into a fear of the child's 
own conscience. We regard it as progress in 
the child's education when commands and pro- 
hibitions from outside become more and more 
unnecessary, and the child knows what to do 
and what not to do under the direction of his 
own conscience. At the time when this nucleus 
of inner ideas which we call conscience, is 
formed, it turns back continually to the figures 
of the outside world on the one hand, to the 
imaginations of his own phantasy on the other, 
and borrows strength from both to reinforce 
the inner commandments. 

The child of four or five who is afraid in 
the evening before sleep because it thinks it 
has done wrong or thought forbidden thoughts, 
will not only have a "bad conscience" or be 
afraid what father and mother would say if 


they knew about its wickedness. It will also 
be afraid of ghosts and bogeymen as reinforce- 
ments of the real parent figures and of the in- 
ner voice. 

Children have a large list of dangers which 
serve as convenient symbols for their conscience 
— they are afraid of policemen who will 
come and arrest them, gypsies and robbers 
who will steal them, chimney sweeps or coal 
carriers who will put them in their bags, dust- 
men who will put them in their bins, lions 
and tigers who will come and eat them, 
earthquakes which will shake their houses, and 
thunderstorms which will threaten them. When 
they receive religious teaching they may leave 
all else aside and be afraid of the devil and 
of hell. There are many children who cannot 
go to sleep in the evening because they are 
afraid that God will look in on them and 
punish them for their sins. There are others 
who receive no religious teaching who trans- 
fer the same fear to the moon. They 
cannot fall asleep if the moon looks at them 
through the window; there are even children 
who cannot fall asleep because their fears are 
busy with expectations of the end of the world. 

For children in this stage of development of 
their inner conscience air raids are simply a 
new symbol for old fears. They are as afraid of 
sirens and of bombs as they are afraid of 


thunder and lightning. Hitler and German 
planes take the place of the devil, of the lions 
again in the morning. 

In the Children's Centre, for instance, Char- 
lie, four and a half years old, called from his 
bed in the evening that the shelter was not 
safe enough, and that the house would fall 
down on him. He would certainly have called 
out in the same way in peace time to say that 
he had a fear of earthquakes or of thunder- 
storms. Roger, four years old, demanded that 
his mother come every evening and stand 
arched over his bed until he fell asleep. It 
is well known that there are many children 
of that same age, who, at all times, refuse to 
go to sleep unless their mothers stand by to 
hold their hands and safeguard them against 
forbidden actions. There is another boy of 
the same age whom the nursery superintendent 
has to assure with endless repetitions that if 
she leaves him at night he will surely find her 
and the tigers. 

This fear also only disguises itself as a fear 
of air attack at night. When we inquire into 
it more closely we realise that he is afraid 
that he has done wrong somehow, and that for 
punishment his teacher and protector will be 
spirited away at night. We can convince 
ourselves of the truth of this explanation when 
we have the chance to remove these children 


from danger and put them in surroundings 
where is no talk of air raids. They will slowly 
revert to their former forms of anxiety. We 
shall know that peace has returned when noth- 
ing is left for the children to be afraid of ex- 
cept their own former ghosts and bogeymen. 
This enumeration of the various types of 
air raid anxiety in children, long as it mav 
seem, is still incomplete. Even superficial 
observation will show that children do not 
only undergo and develop the fears which 
belong to their own age and stage of develop- 
ment, but that they also share the fear reactions 
of their mothers, and, more generally, of the 
grown-up world around them. No understand- 
ing of their own, no development of inhibi- 
tions against primitive aggression and no 
guilty conscience is necessary for the develop- 
ment of this further type of anxiety. A child 
of school age, like the boy described above, 
may stick stubbornly to its own reactions. A 
child in the infant stage of one, two, three, 
four years of age will shake and tremble with 
the anxiety of its mother, and this anxiety 
will impart itself the more thoroughly to the 
child the younger it is. The primitive animal 
tie between mother and baby which, in some 
respects, still makes one being out of the two 
is the basis for the development of this type 
of air raid anxiety in children. The quiet 


manner in which the London population on the 
whole met the air raids is therefore responsible 
in one way for the extremely rare occurrence 
of "shocked" children. 

An instance of this is the experience a medi- 
cal colleague had a few days after London fire 
in the St. Pancras Dispensary. A mother 
appeared as out-patient with her little girl of 
five. When asked what was the matter with 
the child she simply said: "I think she has a 
cough and a bit of a cold". 

When asked about its beginnings, she said : 
"Being taken out from the warmth into the 
cold might be responsible". 

When questioned further she gave the infor- 
mation, bit by bit, that she and the little girl 
had been regular shelterers in a big basement 
shelter under a warehouse. The building 
above them, like so many others, had caught 
fire and been destroyed. The exits of the shel- 
ter were blocked, but a rescue party had come 
and dragged the shelterers out one by one. 

She said: "As a matter of fact, I have been 
quite worried about the little one because for 
a while they could not find her". 

It was the transition from this blazing fur- 
nace of the shelter to the cold December air 
which had given the child "the cough and a 
bit of a cold". We can be certain that this 
particular child, protected and fortified by 


her mother's lack of fear and excitement, will 
not develop air-raid anxiety. 

One of our own mothers, a comfortable and 
placid Irishwoman, the mother of eight chil- 
dren, when asked whether her rooms had been 
damaged by bombing, answered, with a beam- 
ing smile: "Oh, no, we were ever so lucky. We 
had only blast, and my husband fixed the win- 
dow-frames again". 

Blast, which removes the window frames, 
not to mention the window panes, can be a very 
uncomfortable experience; but again, we can 
be certain that for the children of this mother 
the occurrence of the blast was not a very 
alarming incident. 

We had, on the other hand, the opportunity 
to observe very anxious mothers with very anx- 
ious children. There was John's mother, who 
developed agoraphobia during the air raids. 
She never went to bed while the alarm lasted, 
stood at the door trembling and insisted on 
the child not sleeping either. He, a boy of 
five, had to get dressed, to hold her hand and 
to stand next to her. He developed extreme 
nervousness, and bed wetting. When separated 
from her in the Children's Centre he did not 
show special alarm either in daylight or in 
night raids. 

Iris, a girl, three and a half years old, whose 
mother was "quite nervous" since their small 


flat had been bombed and they had been taken 
in by neighbours, would demand to be taken 
out of bed at night during raids and to sit all 
dressed on a chair. She never repeated this 
reaction when living with us. We also had an 
opportunity to observe one mother with a new- 
born baby who, at a time before the shelter 
had been built, slept in our house under the 
stairs. Whenever the whistling of a bomb was 
heard she would snatch up the baby and could 
hardly be prevented from rushing out of doors. 
She must have known that the child was safer 
under the stairs than in the open with the 
continual rain of anti-aircraft shrapnel. But 
this realization did not help matters; it was 
evidently abrogated by a more primitive fear 
of the baby being buried in the house. The 
baby, of course, remained unconscious of the 
danger but, in watching the scene, we felt 
convinced that the mother's state of frenzy 
must have imparted itself to the baby in some 
harmful manner. Luckily, this particular moth- 
er was able to leave London soon for the 
comparative safety of the country. 

The fear of air raids assumes completely 
different dimensions in those children who 
have lost their fathers as a result of bombing. 
In quiet times they turn away from their mem- 
ories as much as possible and are gay and 
unconcerned in their play with the other chil- 


dren. We have four examples, where their 
gaiety is of a specially uncontrolled and un- 
forced kind. The recurrence of an air raid 
forces them to remember and repeat their for- 
mer experience. Again, it is more the mother's 
emotion which they may have to live through 
than their own. 

One little boy of four years then re-expe- 
riences in detail how they heard the bomb 
fall on the particular place where the father 
worked, the rising anxiety when he did not re- 
turn home at the usual time, the mother's con- 
cern over the meal which she had prepared 
and then, together with the mother, the search 
for the lost body, the endless inquiries at vari- 
ous official places, the waiting at the mortuary, 
and the mother's grief and sorrow when the 
loss was confirmed. For these children every 
bomb which falls is like the one which killed 
the father, and is feared as such. One of our 
war orphans, in contrast to all other chil- 
dren, is immensely excited when he sights 
any bomb damage, new or old. Another, 
a little girl of six, transfers this fear and ex- 
citation from bombs to accidents of all kinds, 
to the sight of ambulances, talk of hospitals, of 
illnesses, of operations, in short to every occur- 
rence which brings the fact of death back to 
her mind. It is true, of course, that this 
latter fear is not a true type of air-ra,id 



anxiety. It is, above everything else, a reac- 
tion to the death of the father. 

The war acquires comparatively little signi- 
ficance for children so long as it only threatens 
their lives, disturbs their material comfort or 
cuts their food rations. It becomes enormously 
significant the moment it breaks up family life u ^ 
and uproots the first emotional attachments of 
the child within the family group. London 
children, therefore, were on the whole much 
less upset by bombing than by evacuation to 
the country as a protection against it. 

The reasons for and against evacuation were 
widely discussed during the first year of the 
war in England. Interest in the psychological 
reactions of the children receded into the back- 
ground when, in the second year, the air raids 
on London demonstrated against all possible 
objections the practical need for children's 
evacuation. In order to survey completely all 
the psychological problems involved, the sub- 
ject would have to be studied from various 

There is an interesting social problem in- 
volved in billeting. Children who are billeted 
on householders who are either above or below 
the social and financial status of their parents 
will be very conscious of the difference. If 


urged to adapt themselves to a higher level 
of cleanliness, speech, manners, social behav- 
iour or moral ideals,they will resent these de- 
mands as criticism directed against their own 
parents and may oppose them as such. There 
are children who will refuse new clothes, and 
hang on to torn and dirty things which they 
have brought from home. With young chil- 
dren this may be just an expression of love 
and a desire to cling to memories; with older 
children it is simultaneously an expression 
of their refusal to be unfaithful to the stand- 
ard of their homes. Their reaction may, of 
course, also be of the opposite kind. The 
quickness with which they drop their own 
standards may be an expression of hostility 
against their own parents. When, on the other 
hand, children are billeted on families who are 
poorer than their own, they easily interpret 
the fact as punishment for former ungrate- 
fulness shown at home. 

This situation of being billeted has a secret 
peace-time counterpart in the child's inner 
phantasy life. Most children of early school 
age, six to ten, possess a secret daydream — 
the "family romance" — which deals with 
their descent from royal or lordly parents who 
have only intrusted them to their real, more 
humble families. Others have secret fears of 
being stolen from their families and then 


forced to live in poor and dingy surroundings. 
On the part of the child these phantasies are 
attempts to deal with the whole range of con- 
flicting emotions towards the parents. Love, 
hate, admiration, criticism, and even contempt 
for the parents are worked out in them. When 
evacuation occurs at this time of life the fact 
of being billeted with foster parents of a dif- 
ferent social level may be upsetting to the 
child because it gives sudden and undesired 
reality to a situation which was meant to be 
lived out in the realms of phantasy. 

The psychological problem of the foster 
mother is evident even to those who other- 
wise refuse to take psychological complications 
too seriously. Possessiveness of the mother is, 
as we know, an important factor in the mother- 
child relationship. The child starts its life 
as one part of the mother's body. Insofar as 
the feelings of the mother are concerned it 
remains just that for several years. Egoistic 
reactions of the mother normally include the 
child. Harm to the child is resented by the 
mother as if it were harm done to herself. 
Every human being normally over-estimates his 
own importance, his own personality and his 
own body. This overestimation on the part of 
the mother also includes the child. This 
explains why an infant who is neither good- 
looking nor clever may still seem to possess 


both qualities in the eyes of its own mother 
It is this primitive possessiveness and over- 
estimation at the bottom of motherly love 
which make it possible for mothers to stand 
the strain of work for their children without 
feeling abused. It is common knowledge that 
only love for children will prevent their con- 
tinual demands, the continual noise caused by 
them, and the continual damage done by them 
from being considered a nuisance. 

Foster mothers, i.e. householders, are ex- 
pected to suffer children whom they neither 
love nor over-estimate. There will only be two 
courses open to them. One is to retain the 
attitude of an indifferent outsider, to com- 
plain about the imposition and to try and get 
rid of the child as soon as possible. The 
other course taken is to adopt the mother's 
attitude, which means to feel towards the 
strange child as if it were her own. The foster 
mother will in these last cases not suffer from 
the children billeted on her, or rather she 
will take the trouble involved as a matter of 
course, as mothers do. 

But this second attitude, which is the cause 
of all billeting successes, contains another dan- 
ger. The real mother of the child will sud- 
denly turn up on Sundays or holidays and 
claim earlier rights of possession. It has been 
said on many occasions, and once more after the 


failure of billeting mothers on householders, 
that it is impossible for two women to share 
one kitchen. This may be exaggerated. But 
it is certainly impossible for two mothers to 
share one child. 

There is a third, minor, problem which so 
far has been less considered. It is the problem 
of jealousy and competition between brothers 
and sisters which is presented in evacuation in 
the new form of jealousy of foster- 
brothers and sisters. Children never 
feel friendly towards newborn additions to 
their family. They sometimes pretend to do 
so; at other times they are mollified by the 
smallness and complete helplessness of the new- 
comer. The newly billeted foster-brother, on 
the other hand, is very often neither small nor 
helpless. He usurps rights which the other 
child is unwilling to give up. The billeted 
newcomer for his part is deeply conscious of 
his second-rate position and is embittered by it. 
There are certainly all the elements for jeal- 
ousy and discomfort given in the situation. 

These reactions are interesting enough to 
be made the subject of surveys which are car- 
ried out by child guidance clinics set up in 
reception areas and by consulting psychologists 
attached to County Medical Offices. They 
keep an eye on trouble in the billets, smooth 
nut difficulties and remove the worst billeting 


misfits. They have in their positions a unique 
opportunity to study the situation — especially 
the situation of the school children. 

The Government Scheme for 
Evacuation of unattended children was 
never meant to include children under school 
age, with the exception of some little ones who 
were taken along with evacuation parties as 
younger brothers and sisters. Evacuation of 
unattended children under five was rightly 
considered a difficult undertaking. They were 
supposed to stay with their mothers and only 
to be evacuated with them whenever necessary. 
When the percentage of mothers who were 
unwilling to leave London and stay in billets 
was rather large, a scheme for under-fives was 
added to the other. These under-fives whose 
mothers had to have a good reason for staying 
behind were sent out unattended, either to 
nurseries or to selected billets. The difficulty 
remained that vacancies under this scheme were 
scarce compared with the onrush of mothers 
who were eager to send their small children 
to some place of safety. 

In a London nursery like ours there is 
little opportunity for collecting evidence about 
the successful billeting of under-fives. Chil- 
dren who are happy in their billets i.e., 
who find a foster mother ready to "adopt" 
them, stay in the country and little more is 


heard about them. "Billeting-failures" on the 
other hand, wander backwards and forwards 
between London and the country. Some of 
them may settle down in the end in residential 
nurseries like ours, which are created either 
by private initiative in England or by one of 
the American Relief Funds. More than twenty 
percent of our cases are billeting failures of 
various types. 

We should be more inclined to hold the bil- 
lets responsible for the inability of such large 
numbers of children to adapt themselves to the 
new conditions if we did not possess first-hand 
evidence of the difficulties involved from our 
own observations of the children after their 
first separation from their families. The most 
impressive examples of this kind have been 
described at various times in our monthly 
reports. It is true that not many children pre- 
sent as frightening a picture as Patrick, three 
and a half years old, who found himself re- 
duced to a state in which compulsive formula 
and symptomatic actions played the largest 
part; or Beryl, four years old, who sat for 
several days on the exact spot where her 
mother had left her, would not speak, eat 
or play, and had to be moved around like an 
automaton. Even apart from these unusual 
cases we have seen long drawn-out states of 
homesickness, upset and despair which are 


certainly more than the average inexperienced 
foster mother can be expected to cope with. 
We certainly see no similar states of dis- 
tress in children when we make the round 
of London shelters and find them sleeping 
on the platforms next to their mothers. Our 
own feelings revolt against the idea of infants 
living under the condition of air-raid danger 
and underground sleeping. For the children 
themselves, during the days or weeks of home- 
sickness, this is the state of bliss to which they 
all desire to return. 

There are so many obvious reasons why 
small children should not stay in London shel- 
ters that it is not easy to pay equal attention 
to the emotional reaction of the individual 
child against evacuation. 

A child who is removed from London to the 
country is certainly removed from a state of 
greater danger to a lesser one; it exchanges 
unhygienic conditions of life for more hygienic- 
ones. It avoids possibilities of infection which 
multiply where thousands of individuals are 
massed together. If the child goes to a residen- 
tial nursery, it will be better fed than before; 
it will be given proper occupation and com- 
panionship and will be spared the dreariness of 
an existence where it was dragged to and fro 
between home and shelter with long and empty 
hours of queuing-up at a tube station. 


It is difficult to realise that all these im- 
provements in the child's life may dwindle 
down to nothing when weighed against the fact 
that it has to leave its family to gain them. 
This state of affairs is still more difficult to un- 
derstand when we consider that many of the 
mothers concerned are not "good mothers" in 
the ordinary sense of the word. We deal with 
a large majority of mothers who are affection- 
ate, intelligent, hard working and ready to 
make every possible sacrifice for their chil- 
dren; but there are a minority of mothers who 
are neither. They may be lazy and negligent, 
hard and embittered and unable to give affec- 
tion. There are others who are overly strict in 
their demands and make the life and upbring- 
ing of the child extremely difficult. It is a 
known fact that children will cling even to 
mothers who are continually cross and some- 
times cruel to them. The attachment of the 
small child to its mother seems to a large de- 
gree independent of her personal qualities, and 
certainly of her educational ability. 

This statement is not based on any sentimen- 
tal conception of the sacredness of the tie be- 
tween mother and child. It is the outcome of 
detailed knowledge of the growth and nature 
of the child's emotional life in which the figure 
of the mother is for a certain time the sole im- 
portant representative of the whole outer world. 


Development of the Mother- 
Relationship and the Effect of 
Separation from the Mother at 
the Various Stages 

In the relationship of the small child to its 
mother there are definite main phases to be 
distinguished from each other. 

The first phases which comprise the 
first few months of life are characteristically 
selfish and material. The young baby's Jife is 
governed by sensations of need and satisfaction, 
pleasure and discomfort. The mother plays a 
part in it insofar as she brings satisfaction and 
removes discomfort. When the baby is fed, 
warm and comfortable, it withdraws its interest 
from the outer world and falls asleep. When 
it is hungry, cold and wet or disturbed by sen- 
sations in its own intestines it cries for atten- 
tion. It is certain that the care and attention 
given by the mother, i.e. in a special atmosphere 
of affection which only the mother can supply, 
is more satisfactory to the baby than more 
indifferent and mechanical ministrations to its 

But the fact is that a baby, who at this time 
of life is separated from its mother, will accept 
food and care from a mother substitute. Its 
needs are overwhelming, its helplessness is ex- 
treme, and its distinction between one person 
and another is still in the beginning stage. 


Babies of this age who are left with us by 
mothers will usually have a short time of upset, 
may cry a while, have more difficulty in falling 
asleep and show some irregularity in their di- 
gestion for a day or two. 

We still have to learn exactly how much 
of this upset is due to the disturbance of rou- 
tine and how much to the change away from 
the individual handling and from the particu- 
lar atmosphere of intimacy created by the 
mother. The upset caused, is of course, of a 
more serious nature and of far longer dura- 
tion in cases where the mother has been breast- 
feeding the baby and weaning has to occur 
simultaneously with the separation. Weaning in 
itself acts on the child as a loss of satisfaction 
and a separation from the mother in an im- 
portant sense. When the mother, who has left, 
reappears after a few days, the baby at this 
stage will probably not show signs of recogni- 

The second phase starts roughly, in 
the second half of the first year of life. The ma- 
terial relationship to the mother still exists. 
The mother remains, as she will remain for 
several years, the instrument of satisfaction for 
the child. But out of this ignoble beginning 
of a human relationship something different 
begins to grow. 

The baby begins to pay attention to the 

mother also at times when there is no urgent 
necessity for it to be attended to. It likes its 
mother's company, enjoys her fondling, and 
dislikes to be left alone. So far the absence 
of the mother has only been a potential dan- 
ger; some inner need might arise and there 
might be nobody outside to fulfil it. Now, in 
this later phase, the mother is already appre- 
ciated or missed for her own sake. The child 
is conscious of her presence follows her around 
with its eyes, can answer her smile and is, as 
described above, moved by her moods. Its need 
for her affection becomes as urgent for its 
psychological satisfaction as the need to be 
fed and taken care of is for its bodily com- 
fort. Disturbance after parting from the moth- 
er will last somewhat longer at this stage. 

Babies of this age are sometimes off their 
feed when left with us. Many show signs of 
restlessness during sleep and often seem un- 
friendly or rather withdrawn from contact 
with the outer world. Smiles, friendliness, 
playfulness, will only reappear after the bodily 
functions have returned to normality. This in- 
terruption of psychic contact with the outer 
world is not simply the consequence of the 
bodily discomfort which the baby experiences; 
when once used to us the same baby will not 
cut off its contact with the nurse who handles 
it even in times of illness. 


But at this period of separation it repeats 
what it did in the beginning of its mother rela- 
tionship — it establishes personal contact with 
the mother substitute only on the basis of the 
fulfillment and satisfaction provided for its 
bodily needs. 

The personal attachment of the child to its 
mother, which starts in this manner in the 
first year of life, comes to its full development 
in the second one. It was said before that the v 
child is attached to its mother; it can now be 
safely said that it loves her. The feelings for 
her which it is able to experience acquire the 
strength and variety of adult human love. This 
love makes demands and is possessive. All the 
childs instinctive wishes are now centred on 
the mother. While she is breast-feeding it, it 
wants to "eat" her; later on it will bite her, 
handle her, and whatever impulse starts up in 
it will try to find satisfaction on her person. 

This relationship between small child and 
mother might be a happy one except for two 
reasons. The child's demands are too great; 
it is virtually insatiable. However long the 
mother may have fed it at the breast, it will 
express by its resentment at weaning time that 
it was not long enough; however much time 
she spends near it, it will still bitterly resent 
being left alone at other times. Also, the child 
soon becomes aware of the fact that there are 


other people in the world besides itself and its 
mother. It realizes the presence of brothers and 
sisters who claim equal rights and become its 
rivals. It becomes aware, sometimes at a very 
early age, of the presence of the father, and 
includes him in its world. It recognises him 
as a dangerous rival where family life is 
normal. It loves him at the same time. With 
this conflict of feelings it enters into the whole 
complicated entanglement of feelings which 
characterise the emotional life of human 

Reactions to parting at this time of life are 
particularly violent. The child feels suddenly 
deserted by all the known persons in its world 
to whom it has learned to attach importance. 
Its new ability to love finds itself deprived of 
the accustomed objects, and its greed for af- 
fection remains unsatisfied. Its longing for its 
mother becomes intolerable and throws it into 
states of despair which are very similar to 
the despair and distress shown by babies who 
are hungry and whose food does not appear 
at the accustomed time. For several hours, or 
even for a day or two this psychological crav- 
ing of the child, the "hunger" for its mother, 
may over-ride all bodily sensations. 

There are some children of this age who will 
refuse to eat or to sleep. Very many of them 
will refuse to be handled or comforted by 


strangers. The children cling to some object 
or to some form of expression which means to 
them, at that moment, memory of the material 
presence of the mother. Some will cling to a 
toy which the mother has put into their hands 
at the moment of parting; others to some item 
of bedding or clothing which they have 
brought from home. 

Some will monotonously repeat the word by 
which they are used to call their mothers, as 
for instance, Christine, seventeen months old, 
who said: "Mum, mum, mum, mum, mum . . " 

She repeated it continually in a deep voice 
for at least three days. 

Observers seldom appreciate the depth and 
seriousness of this grief of a small child. Their 
judgment of it is misled for one main reason. 
This childish grief is short-lived. Mourning 
of equal intensity in an adult person would 
have to run its course throughout a year; the 
same process in the child between one and 
two years will normally be over in thirty-six to 
forty-eight hours. It is a psychological error 
to conclude from this short duration that the 
reaction is only a superficial one and can be 
treated lightly. The difference in duration is 
due to certain psychological differences be- 
tween the state of childhood and adultness. The 
child's life is still entirely governed by the 
principle which demands that it should seek 


pleasure and avoid pain and discomfort. It can- 
not wait for the arrival of pleasure and bear 
discomfort in the idea that in this way ultimate 
pleasure may again be reached. 

An adult person may find himself in the 
same situation of being suddenly cut off from 
all the people he loves, and will also experi- 
ence intense longing. But his memories of the 
past and his outlook into the future will help 
him maintain an inner relationship to the 
loved objects and thus to bridge the period 
until re-union is possible. 

The psychological situation of the child is 
completely different. A love object who does 
not give it immediate satisfaction is no good 
to it. Its memories of the past are spoilt by 
the disappointment which it feels at the pres- 
ent moment. It has no outlook into the future 
and it would be of no help to it if it had. Its 
needs are so urgent that they need immediate 
gratification; promises of pleasure are no help. 

The little child will therefore, after a short 
while, turn away from the mother image in its 
mind and, though at first unwillingly, will ac- 
cept the comfort which is offered. In some 
cases acceptance may come in slow stages. 
Christine, for instance, would at first only let 
herself be fondled or held by an unseen per- 
son. She would sit on somebody's lap, turn 
ler head away, enjoy the familiar sensation 


of being held, and probably add to it in her 
own mind the imaginary picture of her own 
mother. Whenever she looked at the face of 
the person who held her she began to cry. 

There are other children who are spared 
these violent reactions. They seem placid, 
dazed, and more or less indifferent. It takes 
a few days or even a week before this placidity 
is disturbed by a realisation of the fact that 
they are among strangers; all sorts of slighter 
depressive reactions and problems of behaviour 
will then result. All children of this age, those 
with the violent reactions as well as those 
where reaction is delayed, will show a tendency 
to fall ill under the new conditions; they will 
develop colds, sore throats, or slight intestinal 

That the shock of parting at this stage is 
really serious is further proven by the obser- 
vation that a number of these children fail to 
recognise their mothers when they are visited 
after they have "settled down" in their new sur- 
roundings. The mothers themselves realise that 
this lack of recognition is not due to any limi- 
tations of the faculty of memory as such. The 
same child who looks at its mother's face with 
stony indifference as if she were a complete 
stranger, will have no difficulty in recognising 
lifeless objects which have belonged to its past. 
When taken home again it will recognise the 


rooms, the position of the beds and will re- 
member the contents of cupboards, etc. 

Fathers also are treated better in this re- 
spect. The children were always more or less 
used to their coming and going and not depen- 
dent on them for their primitive gratifi- 
cations. Consequently, parting from them 
is no real shock and their memory remains 
more undisturbed. Failure to recognise the 
mother occurs when something has hap- 
pened to the image of the mother in the child's 
mind, i.e., to its inner relationship to her. 
The mother has disappointed the child and 
left its longing for her unsatisfied; so it turns 
against her with resentment and rejects the 
memory of her person from its consciousness. 

What is true about the small child remains 
true with certain modifications for the next two 
or three years of life. Changes are brought 
about slowly by development in various direc- 
tions. Intelligence grows and enables the 
child to get some understanding of real sit- 
uations, for instance, of the real reasons for 
being sent way; towards the age of five this 
mental understanding already acts as a real 
help in lessening the shock. More comfort 


can be derived from memories, and hopes for 
the future begin to play a part. 

On the other hand the relations between chil- 
dren and their parents are less simple and 
harmonious at this time time of life. All sorts 
of complicating factors have been added to the 
home situation and confuse the picture when 
the family has to break up. The child of this 
age has ceased to live in partnership with its 
mother only; it has become a member of a 
larger family group, and this factor has a bear- 
ing on its emotions and affections. 

So far the emotional development of boys 
and girls has appeared rather similar; at this 
age they begin to develop definitely along dif- 
ferent lines. The boy begins to identify himself 
with his father and to imitate him in various 
ways. This changes his position towards the 
mother; he ceases to be a dependent baby, and 
turns into a small demanding male who claims 
her attention, desires her admiration, and longs 
to possess her in more grown-up ways. The 
little girl, on the other hand, has grown away 
from her complete absorption in the mother. 
She begins to imitate her in turn, she 
tries to play mother herself with dolls or with 
her younger brothers and sisters. She turns her 
affection and interest more towards the father, 
and would like him to appreciate her in the 

mother's place. 


Both sexes in this manner have their first 
experience in being in love. As a result of 
circumstances it is inevitable that this first love 
is disappointing. In comparison with the rival 
parent the child feels itself to be small, in- 
effective and inferior. It experiences feelings 
of anger towards one parent, jealousy towards 
the other, and feels generally discontented that 
its fantastic wishes to be big can find no real 

It acts as a second disturbing factor that the 
parents use the love which children feel for 
them to educate the children. The early up- 
bringing of children is not at all an easy 

Children are born as little savages; when 
they enter school at the age of five they are 
expected to be more or less civilised human 
beings. This means that the first years of life 
are completely filled with the struggle between 
the demands of the parents and the instinctive 
wishes of the child. Already in the first two 
years weaning has been carried out against the 
desire of the child and habit training has been 
enforced. The child's hunger and greed have 
had to adapt themselves to regular meal times. 
In this new period the parents criticise and 
restrict the child's aggression and its wishes to 
destroy things. They not only train it to clean- 
liness, they want it to dislike dirt as much as 


they do. When it is naturally cruel, they want 
it to feel pity. Its first sexual impulses are 
interfered with when it tries to satisfy itself 
on the its own body; it certainly finds no satis- 
faction when it turns towards its parents. The 
curiosity of the child is left largely unsatisfied, 
and its natural desire to be admired is criticised 
as a wish to "show off." In this first education 
of the child, the parents do not usually apply 
compulsion; they simply make use of the de- 
pendence of the child and of its love for father 
and mother. The child is quite helpless in the 
hands of the parents; therefore, even a slight 
punishment will frighten it into obedience. 
The parents' love is all-important to the child; 
therefore it is used as a reward when the child 
is "good" and its withdrawal is threatened 
when the child is "naughty." In this unequal 
battle nothing is left to the child in the end but 
to give in and become civilised. 

These two factors, disappointment in early 
love and the pressure of education, threaten to 
spoil the pleasantness of the relations between 
child and parent. Whenever the child is de- 
nied some pleasure it becomes resentful, when 
it is too much restricted it turns obstinate. 
When it is punished it hates the parents; but 
it can never stand hating father or mother 
without feeling the strongest guilt about it 

Children are quick in their anger and know 

only one main punishment for anybody who 
offends them, i.e. that this person should go 
away and not return, which in childish 
language means that he should die. In every- 
day life at home these emotions are natural 
and necessary; they create small outbursts and 
settle down again. The father or mother who 
have been wished dead at one moment are re- 
instated in the child's affections in the next. On 
the other hand, it is probably these violent 
negative feelings of the child which determine 
its reaction to separation at this period. The 
negative feelings towards the parents are meant 
to be only transitory. Under the influence of 
daily contact they are held in check and neu- 
tralised by the affection for the parents which 
is constantly produced in answer to all the 
satisfactions which the child receives. 

It does not seem so very dangerous to kill 
a parent in phantasy if at the same time 
outward evidence shows that this same parent 
is alive and. well. But separation seems to be 
an intolerable confirmation of all these nega- 
tive feelings. Father and mother are now 
really gone. The child is frightened by their 
absence and suspects that their desertion may 
be another punishment or even the conse- 
quence of its own bad wishes. To overcome 
this guilt it overstresses all the love which it 
has ever felt for its parents. This turns the 


natural pain of separation into an intense long- 
ing which is hard to bear. In theses moods of 
homesickness children are usually particularly 
good. Commands and prohibitions which they 
formerly opposed at home are now religiously 
observed in the absence of the parents. What- 
ever might be interpreted as implied criticism 
of the parents is violently resented. They 
search their thoughts for past wrongs about 
which they might feel guilty. 

Patrick, three and one half years old, when 
he heard that his mother had gone to the hos- 
pital with a bad leg began to remember a time 
when he had kicked her, and began to wonder 
whether her illness was his fault. 

Visits or lack of them is understood as re- 
wards and punishments. We had several little 
girls of three and four who would "hang 
around" the doors for hours when their mothers 
were expected to come. But the visits at these 
times never brought the desired satisfaction. 
When the mothers were present the children 
would be gloomy, shy, and hang onto them 
without talking; when the mothers left again 
the affection broke through and violent scenes 
were produced. The children acted as if they 
could only feel love towards the absent mother; 
towards the present mother resentment was 

Again, the reactions towards the father do 

not develop on quite the same lines. There are 
two main attitudes which we were able to 
observe. The first is that many children will 
adopt every father who enters the nursery as 
if he were their own. They will demand to 
sit on his lap or wish to be carried around 
by him. A visiting mother will never be 
claimed in this manner by strange children. 
The second is that some little girls, two to 
four years old, will suddenly develop acute 
anxiety at the sight of any man, will turn 
their face away, cover their eyes with their 
hands, shriek with fear and run to the nurses 
for protection. The first reaction may easily 
be due to the general scarcity of the male ele- 
ment in nursery life. The second is probably 
based on the inner rejection of the father 
due to the child's disappointment caused by 

Further Fate of the Child- 
Parent Relationship 

At the beginning of this chapter we de- 
scribed how difficult it is at the start of nur- 
sery life to wean the child away from its 
mother. It is just as difficult in the later work 
to try and keep alive in the child at least 
remnants of its original relationship to the 

Most of the children under three will, be- 


cause of the inner situation described, forget 
about their parents or at least become appar- 
ently indifferent towards them. They shift 
their affections to the new surroundings and, 
after some hesitation and some loss of valuable 
development to be described later, will restart 
normal life on a new basis. 

After three years of age children will not 
normally forget their parents. Their memories 
are more stable, a change of attitude takes the 
place of complete repression. It is already 
easier for the children to find active and con- 
scious expression for their feelings. The image 
of the parents remains in their mind, especially 
when helped from the outside by frequent 
visits, receipt of parcels, and constant talk 
about the parents. Frequently, these parental 
images undergo great changes compared with 
the real parent in the child's past. In phantasy 
life the absent parents seem better, bigger, 
richer, more generous and more tolerant than 
they have ever been. It is the negative feelings, 
as shown above, which undergo repression and 
create all sorts of moods and problems of be- 
haviour, the origin of which remains unknown 
to the child and teacher alike. 

But even at this age where relationship with 
the parents persists in phantasy, the real affec- 
tions of the children slowly leave the parents. 
Again, the child of this age lives mainly in 


the present. New ties are form Thertfd favorites 
are found among the teachers <.' • ablend nurse- 
brother-sister jealousies are transferrea u1 , ' , m!' 
small members of the nursery community, 
friendships are established at a surprisingly 
early age. Pride in the home is changed to 
pride in the nursery, in toys and all the various 
possessions of the community. 

In our houses, where every possible con- 
cession is made to visiting parents, it hardly 
ever occurs that a child will refuse to leave 
the nursery with its mother. But there were 
several small children, about two years old, 
who showed little friendliness to their mothers 
when they were at home with them, and re- 
fused either to eat or to sleep or to play. They 
would cling to memories of the nursery — "m\ 
bath," "my toast," "my Nelsa" — as they had 
clung to their mother's name "Mum, mum" — 
their pet animals, or some belonging of their 
mother's when they first came to the nursery. 
The bigger children, three to four years old. 
know, of course, that this estranged woman 
who now showers affection on them is in reality 
their mother; but this rational conviction docs 
not carry them far. 

The situation was most clearly expressed in 
the example of Mary, three years, three months 
old. Mary was the child who took the longest 
time to adapt herself to nursery life. For at 


cause of th 'e months every visit of her mother was 
about fa* panied by floods of tears. Her develop- 
•<><■ .i£ was arrested through her concentration 
on her longing, her disappointments and her 
varying moods of stubbornness and depression. 
She entered in July and began at last to settle 
down about Christmas time. She began to 
transfer her affections, to be gay and to start all 
sorts of interests. In January she paid a long 
visit to her mother and was very pleasant with 
her for two days. 

But when her mother asked her on the third 
afternoon whether she would rather stay an- 
other night or return to the nursery, she said, 
politely, and sensibly: "Don't you think, mum- 
my, it would be better if we went home 
again" — 

Home in that case, of course referred to the 

Not every child expresses matters so clearly 
as Mary. But even if the parents are over- 
possessive and nothing is done on the side of 
the nursery to fan the mother's jealousy, 
this situation must be nearly unbearable for 
mothers with a real attachment to their child- 
ren. Fears of losing the child completely in this 
way are often the reason why mothers make 
sudden decisions to give up work and take 
their children home. 

At the present moment no one can quite de- 

fine or even make a mental picture of the new- 
shocks of separation and all the innumerable 
troubles which will arise when, at the end of 
the war, all these children are deprived of 
their present homes to which they have be- 
come accustomed and are expected to "go 
home" again. 

It is specially difficult to predict how this 
will react on those children who entered the 
nursery in the first six months of life and have 
never had any experience of a family situation. 

It is impossible for children to go through 
upheavals of this kind without showing their 
effect in "difficult" behaviour and in varia- 
tions from normality. Infantile nature has cer- 
tain means at its disposal to deal with shocks, 
deprivations, and upsets in outside life. Other 
psychological methods which are open to 
adults are not yet available in childhood. Chil- 
dren may therefore go apparently unharmed 
through experiences which would produce 
grave results in people of another age. On the 
other hand they may break down completely 
under strain which to the ordinary adult per- 
son seems negligible. These peculiarities of the 
psychological make-up of the child may ac- 
count on the one hand for the astonishing ro- 


bustness of children, on the other hand for 
most of the problems of behaviour and symp- 
toms about which all the war nurseries 

Outlet in Speech 

Whenever, during the time of 'blitz', mothers 
came to the Children's Centre after a bad 
night's bombing, the best we could do for them 
would be to provide an interested audience for 
their tales. The kitchen in Wedderburn Road 
would reverberate with descriptions of neigh- 
bors who had been killed, possessions which 
had been destroyed, and miraculous rescues 
from burning shelters. We would even risk 
the children hearing more of the events than 
was strictly necessary rather than cut short 
mothers when they unloaded their minds of 
these horrors. If they repeated the description 
often enough their excitement would subside 

This most valuable outlet into speech and 
conscious thought which acts as a drainage for 
anxiety and emotion is denied to young chil- 
dren. It is possible that they would use this 
method at earlier ages when with their 
mothers. Under the conditions of nursery life 
the children do not talk about their frightening 
experiences immediately after they have hap- 
pened. Among all those 'received at Wedder- 


burn Road after their houses had been bombed, 
there was not a single one who at that time 
related what had happened. 

The only child who talked freely about 
bombing experiences was Charlie, who had al- 
ways lived in deep shelters, and heard a great 
deal of talk about bombing but had never 
been himself in any bombing incident. After 
a period of more than six months had elapsed 
several of these same children suddenly began 
to talk about bombing as if it had happened 
yesterday. Pamela, four and a half years old, 
related how her ceiling fell down and how her 
sister Gloria was all covered by it. 

Again, four months later, she drew the pic- 
ture of a front door of a house and said: "The 
door is broken, and there is a big hole in it." 

She knew that the door in the picture was 
the front door of her former home. At the 
same time her friend Pauline, five years old, 
began to describe her bombing experience in 
the same way. 

She dictated letters to her American foster 
parents: "My house was bombed one time and 
my bath is broken and my windows. And my 
pussy-cat was hurt by a bomb and was hang- 
ing on the guard, and I picked him off and 
he jumped on again. And I was down in the 
shelter with my mammy and granny." 

In another letter she writes: "My mammv 

and I were under the table and my poor little 
sister was in bed all by herself covered with 
stones, and my pussy-cat was thrown away." 

Bertram, three years nine months old, was in 
the nursery several weeks before he could re- 
count in words the event which had been a ter- 
rible shock for him: "My father had 'taken 
away my mother in a big car.' " 

The children who lost their fathers in air 
raids never mentioned anything of their expe- 
rience for many months. Their mothers were 
convinced that they had forgotten all about it. 
Then after a year, two of them at least told 
the complete story with no details left out. 
In all these instances speech does not serve as 
an outlet for the emotion which is attached 
to the happening. It is rather the other way 
round. The child begins to talk about the 
incident when the feelings which were aroused 
by it have been dealt with in some other 

-Outlet in Play 

When adults go over their experiences in 
conscious thought and speech, children do the 
same in their play. 

War games play a part in our nursery 
as they do in others. Houses which are built 
are not simply thrown over as in former 
times, they are bombed from above, bricks 




being used as bombs. Playing train has given 
way to playing aeroplane; the noise of trains 
to that of flying 'planes. Games like these will 
come more into the foreground after air at- 
tacks, and give way to peace time games when 
things are again normal. After the raids in 
March and May 1941, the children, three to 
five years old, repeated in play what they 
had seen or heard. The climbing frame in the 
garden was used to provide a high point for 
the bomber. One child climbed to the highest 
bar and threw heavy objects on the children 
underneath. This was also the only time when 
one of our children was overheard to men- 
tion "gas". 

A girl, three years old, filled both her hands 
with sand from the sandbox, threw the sand 
in the children's faces and said: "This is a gas 

This game was played without fear but with 
a great deal of unrestrained excitement. A war 
game of a different kind was played by Bertie, 
four years old, at the time when he still 
refused to admit the truth of his father's death. 
He was ill in bed at the time of the spring 
raids, had a whole tray full of paper houses 
on his bed and played indefatigably. He would 
build the houses up, cover them with their 
roofs, and then throw them down with small 
marbles which were his bombs. Whereas in 


the other children's game any number of 
people were "killed" and in the end every- 
thing was left in bits and pieces, the point in 
Bertie's play was that all his people were al- 
ways saved in time and all his houses were 
invariably built up again. The other children 
repeated incidents of a more impersonal kind 
in their games; they played active and em- 
bellished versions of events which had actually 
happened. This served the purpose of relief 
and abreaction. Bertie's play, on the other 
hand, had the opposite intention — he wanted 
to deny the reality of what had happened. 
Since the denial was never completely suc- 
cessful the play had to be repeated incessantly 
—it became compulsive. The games of the 
other children remained transitory. 

Bertie stopped playing in this way when, 
half a year later, he at last gave up his denial 
and was able to tell his story: "My father 
has been killed and my mother has gone to the 
hospital. She will come back at the end of 
the war but he will not return." 

No war games are played in the Babies' 
Centre where the oldest children are now about 
three years, which means that they experienced 
bombings when they were less than two. 

Dolls and teddy bears are used 
in play as substitutes for missing families. 

Children of four or five still go to bed with 

their pets, which they probably would not 
do at that age under normal family conditions. 
There are several children who will not be 
separated from some toy animal which they 
have brought from home and compulsively 
hold it in one hand, if possible even during 
washing, dressing or eating. Lessening of thai 
clinging is usually the first sign that the child 
has overcome the shock of separation and has 
found new living objects for his affection 
Lending of a toy of this kind to another child 
is the sign of greatest love between two chil- 
dren. "Mother and child" is played with dolls 
continually. In observing the little girls, one 
often feels that the doll does not represent 
the baby which the child can "mother" bin 
rather that the doll represents the absent 
mother herself. It is a sign of the greatest en- 
mity between two children when they hurt 
each other's dolls or pet animals. 

Shelters are, of course, built out of 
everything and take the place of what children 
formerly used to call "playing house." 

Outlet in Behaviour 

Some children are unable to express what 
has happened to them either in speech or in 
play. Instead, they develop behaviour which 
seems cranky to the outside world until it can 
be recognised. 


With Bertie, four years old, for instance, it 
seemed for a time as if he were really going 
crazy. He would suddenly interrupt whatever 
he was doing, run to the other end of the room, 
look aimlessly into the corners and return 
quietly as if nothing had happened. He would 
distort his face in the most horrible manner. 
He was restless and excitable, quick to pick 
quarrels and very worried about his own 
health; he would not go out without warm 
clothes even in the summer heat, and so on. It 
showed in time that this was his way of relat- 
ing how his mother had behaved after his 
father was killed and before she went insane. 
She had aimlessly searched for the father, had 
expressed her grief in an unrestrained man- 
ner, had been excitable and quarrelsome and 
very worried about the health of the boy. In 
the end it had been Bertie's falling ill with 
scarlet fever which had completed her break- 
down. Bertie, in his behaviour combined the 
expression of her emotion, her attitude toward 
the people around, her attitude to himself and 
possibly even some imitation of his father who 
is said to have been specially protective and 
affectionate towards his family. Curiously 
enough, these reactions reached their highest 
point at the time of the anniversary of the 

father's death. 
Another child, a boy of five, has a very de- 

7 1 

finite way of demonstrating the scenes which 
used to take place in his parents' home. He 
flies into violent tempers, turns against the 
people he loves most, attempts to destroy furni- 
ture, toys, etc. At the end of the scene he sud- 
denly becomes gentle and affectionate, demands 
to sit on the teacher's lap and sucks his thumb. 
His father is known to act in a similar manner 
towards the mother; he also ends up their vio- 
lent quarrels with a love scene with his young 

With little Bertram, three and a half years 
old, fragments of odd behaviour are the only 
means of conveying some idea of his past ex- 
periences. He will sit at table endlessly, appar- 
ently without eating; this means that he had 
conflicts about eating at the nursery where he 
lived before coming to ours. He threatens 
adults that they "get no pudding"; that means 
that now he does to others what he experi- 
ences in a passive way. At bedtime he "acts 
up" in a curious way; this was found to be his 
remembrance of the times when he had been 
sent to bed for punishment, etc. 

Examples of this kind could be continued 
endlessly. They are instructive insofar as they 
show that past experiences of all kinds appear 
on the surface in the form of the usual be- 
haviour problems. 


*\0 u 1 1 e t in Phantasy 

As has already been said, conscious phan- 
tasies are used largely to embellish and main- 
tain the positive side of the child-parent rela- 
tionship. In early childhood conscious phanta- 
sies are not restricted to the realm of thought. 
They go over into action and fill a large part of 
the child's life in the form of phantasy games. 
Conscious phantasy in its pure form — day- 
dreams — finds its fullest expression only at a 
later stage of development. 

There is one child who firmly refuses to join 
in any games where phantasy is used, where 
impersonations play a part, etc. Bertie gets 
frightened and anxious when he is urged by the 
other children to be a rabbit, a dog, a wolf, to 
play the role of another child, of one of the 
teachers or whatever the game demands. His 
phantasy is exclusively reserved for dealing 
with the tragic story of his parents; it is in- 
hibited in all other ways. 

Return to Infantile Modes 
of Behaviour (Regression) 

Every step in early education is closely con- 
nected with one of the phases of the child's at- 
tachment to some living object in the outer 
world. During the first years of life every child 
should make steady and uninterrupted pro- 
gress towards social adaptation. It is egoistic 


and narcissistic at the beginning of life. In 
the same measure as its feelings turn away 
from itself and go out towards mother and 
father, the further family and the world be- 
yond them, the child becomes increasingly 
able to restrict and gain control over its own 
instincts and to become "social". When some- 
thing happens to shake its confidence in its 
parents or to rob it altogether of its loved ob- 
jects it withdraws into itself once more and 
regresses in social adaptations instead of pro- 
gressing. The advances it has made in becom- 
ing clean, in being less destructive, in modesty, 
pity and unselfishness, i.e. the first setting up of 
moral ideals within itself, has on the child's 
part not only been a sacrifice. It has felt 
pleasure in these achievements because they 
were made for the sake of the parents and thus 
brought their own rewards. When the attach- 
ment to the parents is destroyed, all these new- 
achievements lose their value for the child. 
There is no sense any more in being good, 
clean or unselfish. When the child rejects its 
attachment to the parents who have deserted it, 
it rejects at the same time many of the moral 
and social standards which it has already 
reached. Most of the difficulties shown by chil- 
dren who now fill the residential war nurseries 
are due to such regressions in development. 


\5 B c d Wetting 

Whenever training in cleanliness is achieved 
in the first few months of life, it is based com- 
pletely on reflex action and has nothing to do 
with the child's psychological reactions. Ex- 
perience has shown that this early control has 
a tendency to break down between the age of 
ten and thirteen months, when psychological 
factors of various kinds enter and complicate 
the situation. A second and more lasting con- 
trol is then achieved by education proper, that 
is by the usual methods of criticism or praise, 
reward or punishment within the framework of 
the mother-child relationship. It takes time 
before this bladder and sphincter control is 
purely automatic. During this time the child 
will be clean or dirty according to the steadi- 
ness of its relations with the person who 
brought it up from dirtiness to cleanliness. A 
small child will normally have a setback in 
its habits when it changes hands. When the 
break in attachment is as sudden and complete 
as it has been under the influence of evacuation, 
even older children may revert to wetting and 
dirtying themselves. The breakdown in habit; 
training is one of the expressions of a break- 
down of the mother-relationship. 

This history of bed wetting is only one of 
the many possible reasons for the appearance 
of this symptom. Bed wetting can be simply 


caused by neglect; it can, on the other hand, 
be a complicated neurotic expression and as 
such only one symptom in the syndrome of a 
neurosis. But the wetting and dirtying which 
became one of the main stumbling blocks of 
billeting are usually not of the more compli- 
cated type. Their beginning coincided mostly 
with the break in the child's attachment, and 
it often disappeared after a few months when 
the child had succeeded in forming adequate 
new relationships. 


In the early phase of infancy when the child 
is still "all selfish", it turns to its own body 
as a source of pleasure. Whenever comfort 
from the outside world is slow in coming or 
seems inadequate it provides extra pleasure 
for itself by sucking its thumb. As it grows 
older other parts of the body, its skin, the 
body openings, rhythmic muscular movements, 
the sex parts themselves are used for the same 
purpose. Under normal conditions of develop- 
ment these autoerotic gratifications play a cer- 
tain limited role in its life. As the child learns 
to send its feelings out towards loved objects 
it also tries to derive its pleasures from them. 
When its attachments are interrupted it re- 
gresses in this respect as well to its former 
methods of finding pleasure. Thumb-sucking 


especially is very much in evidence in all the 
residential nurseries. We can observe big chil- 
dren of four or five eagerly and intently suck- 
ing their thumbs as if they were infants lying 
in their cribs. There is so far not enough 
evidence to show whether the same really ap- 
plies to the other forms of autoerotic pleasures, 
such as rocking, masturbation, etc. 


Under the influence of denial and regression 
the child's natural love for food, for sweets, for 
presents, is often turned to insatiable greed. 
Demand for affection is transformed back into 
a demand for material gifts. Parcels from the 
absent mother or sweets brought by the visit- 
ing mother seem for the child as important as 
the mother herself. This does not only signify 
that the present can be used as a symbol for 
the mother; it means that the mother relation- 
ship has regressed to the stage when the value 
of the mother was still measured in terms of 
the material comfort derived from her person. 


Under the present war conditions two factors 
combine to make children at the nursery stage 
more aggressive and destructive than they were 
found to be in normal times. One factor is 
the loosening of early repression and inhibi- 


tion of aggression due to the example of de- 
struction in the outside world. The other is 
the return to earlier modes of expression for 
aggressive tendencies. The bigger child then 
becomes as unrestrained in this respect as it has 
been in its earliest years. Like a small toddler 
it will again be loving and affectionate at one 
moment, enraged, full of hate and ready to 
bite and scratch in the next. Its destructive ten- 
dencies will turn equally towards living people 
and towards lifeless objects. 

Temper Tantrums 

Return to infantile behaviour equally con- 
cerns the nature of the child's wishes and ten- 
dencies and the manner in which the child 
strives to get satisfaction for them. Babies can 
only announce their needs by crying, scream- 
ing and kicking; they have no other means at 
their disposal to enforce the arrival of the de- 
sired pleasure. Bigger children can under- 
stand the situation with their reason, they can 
speak, ask, demand, they can alter their posi- 
tion by their own volition, can go and get what 
they want, i.e. they can actively bring about 
all sorts of changes in the outward situation. 
Normally their wishes should also already be 
felt with less urgency and despair. When a 
child of three or four sets up a howl because 
the sweets it wants are not forthcoming or be- 


cause a meal is later than its appetite demands, 
we have a right to feel that it is "childish". 

The temper tantrums which are so frequent 
in all the residential war nurseries seem to be 
the combined expression of the regressive pro- 
cess along the whole line of educational 
achievement. The children throw themselves 
on the floor, kick with their feet, hammer with 
their fists, scream at the top of their lungs and 
then suddenly turn "good" again, peacefully 
suck their thumbs or get up as if nothing had 
happened. It means that they have returned 
from the sensible active attitude possible for 
the growing individual to the helpless and des- 
pairing passivity of their infant stage. 

Abnormal Withdrawal of the 
Emotional Interest from the 
Outside World 

With our present experience we expect the 
state of homesickness to last any length of 
time from a few hours to several weeks or even 
a few months. When this period is over the 
child finds itself attached to new people in its 
new surroundings. The new ties may be less 
solid and more superficial than the original 
ones. As already described, the child starts 
its new relationships on a more primitive level, 
and some valuable achievements are lost dur- 
ing the process of adaptation. But however 


big or small that loss may be, the fact remains 
that normally the withdrawal of emotional in- 
terest will be temporary and the child will re- 
turn sooner or later to good relations with the 
outside world. It is different in cases where, 
through a series of unlucky circumstances, the 
child has to change hands more than once or 
twice so that its new attachments are again 
wasted, and it is deprived of its new objects 
as soon as they are found. Its relations to 
people will then become more and more super- 
ficial and abnormal reactions of some kind will 
certainly follow. We were able to observe 
two cases of this kind. 

Johnny had changed his place of living sev- 
eral times between the age of two and three, 
He had never been separated from his mother 
up to the age of two, and spent 14 months of 
that time alone with her after father had been 
drafted into the army. His wanderings began 
when his mother fell ill with tuberculosis and 
went into a hospital. She once returned from 
the hospital because she heard that he was un- 
happy in the place where she had left him. 
She took him home to her relatives in the hope 
that she would be able to leave him there. 
Since all her sisters had gone out on war work 
there was nobody to leave him with, and she 
again found a private billet in the country. She 
left him there to return to the hospital. In the 


meantime he had developed bed wetting so 
that the billet would not keep him. Again he 
began to wander until he landed in our coun- 
try house at the age of three. Observations 
showed that as a result of his experiences he 
had become completely and frighteningly im- 
personal. His face, though very good looking, 
was expressionless; a stereotyped smile would 
appear at times. He was neither shy nor for- 
ward, ready to stay where he was put and did 
not seem afraid of the new surroundings. He 
made no distinction between one grown-up and 
another, clung to no one and avoided no one. 
He ate, slept and played and was no trouble 
to anybody; the only abnormal feature about 
him was that he seemed completely devoid of 
all emotion. For several weeks it was very 
difficult to get nearer to him in any way. The 
ice was broken at last when he fell ill and was 
isolated with one nurse. Whenever his tem- 
perature was taken the nurse held him on 
her lap and put her arm around his shoulders 
to keep the thermometer in place. Until then 
he had been indifferent to every kind of 
fondling; this special position evidently 
aroused in him memories of being in his 
mother's arms. He became attached to the 
nurse, asked repeatedly for "his temperchure" 
and found the way back to his feelings with 
the help of this incident. 


The second case, Sylvia, three and a half 
years old, showed even worse abnormality. 
She holds the record with six different billets 
between the age of two and three. Her par- 
ents are highly skilled war workers who sent 
her to the country at the beginning of the 
war with her older sisters' evacuation school 
party. She was unhappy in some billets, not 
well treated in others, and had to leave one 
place after the other because her foster mothers 
fell ill, went to hospital etc. In the end she 
became completely confused and failed to rec- 
ognise her own mother though both parents 
visited in turns nearly fortnightly. Her emo- 
tional withdrawal from the outside world was 
the same as Johnny's, all her other reactions 
were exactly opposite. Where Johnny showed 
complete lack of emotion she had emotional 
outbreaks of an hysterical type — fits of crying 
alternated with fits of laughing. Where Johnny 
was easy to handle, she was impossible. When 
she came to our nursery she would not go to 
bed, could not sleep, would not eat, fought 
against being bathed, washed, dressed or un- 
dressed. She had fears of going downstairs, of 
leaving the house, of entering again through 
the front door. Sometimes she would like to 
play with other children, at other times she 
screamed with fear when they approached her 
When she returns from a visit to her par- 

ents' home where she is now sent regularly, 
she tells phantastic tales about the events which 
happen there. Everybody pushes everybody 
else, her sisters hit her on the head, she is 
pushed into the fire and everything burns up. 
There are no bombing experiences at the root 
of Sylvia's fears. She is one among the few 
of our children who escaped the London air 
raids through early evacuation to the country. 
As a consequence of the shock of her repeat- 
ed separations she has developed a neurotic ill- 
ness which is so far difficult to diagnose. Hys- 
terical symptoms alternate with phobic beha- 
viour and compulsive mechanisms. The main 
feature is her withdrawal from the interests of 
the real outer world. Her expression is always 
worried, her glance fixed and stony. There is 
little hope that, like Johnny, she will find a 
natural return to normality. She is ill enough 
to need and receive psycho-analytical treatment 
for her neurosis. 

At first glance it seems from this material 
as if small children had little chance to escape 
unharmed from the present war conditions. 
They either stay in the bombed areas with 
their parents and, quite apart from physical 
danger, get upset by their mothers' fears and 
excitements, and hardened and brutalised by 


the destruction which goes on around them and 
by shelter life. Or else they avoid these dangers, 
are evacuated to the country and suffer other 
shocks through separation from the parents at 
an age which needs emotional stability and 
permanency. Choosing between two evils 
seems to be all that war-time care is able to 
accomplish for them. 

On the other hand we should not be too 
quick in drawing such conclusions. That eva- 
cuation under the present conditions is as up- 
setting as bombing itself is no proof yet that 
methods of evacuation could not be found 
which guard the children's life and bodily 
health and at the same time provide the possi- 
bility for normal psychological development 
and steady progress in education. 

Our case material shows that it is not so 
much the fact of separation to which the 
child reacts abnormally as the form in which 
the separation has taken place. The child 
experiences shock when it is suddenly and 
without preparation exposed to dangers with 
which it cannot cope emotionally. In the case 
of evacuation the danger is represented by 
the sudden disappearance of all the people 
whom it knows and loves. Unsatisfied long- 
ing produces in it a state of tension which is 
felt as shock. If separation happened slowly, 
if the people who are meant to substitute for 


the mother were known to the child before- 
hand, transition from one object to the other 
would proceed gradually. If the mother re- 
appeared several times during the period when 
the child had to be weaned from her, the pain 
of separation would be repeated, but it would 
be felt each successive time in smaller doses. 
By the time the affection of the child had let 
go of the mother the new substitute object 
would be well known and ready at hand. There 
would be no empty period in which the feel- 
ings of the child are turned completely in- 
ward and, consequently, there would be little 
loss of educational achievement. Regression 
occurs while the child is passing through the 
no-man's-land of affection, i.e. during the time 
the old object has been given up and before the 
new one has been found. Two of our children 
have expressed this state of mind in their own 

Bertram, three and three-quarters years old, 
said: "I don't like you, I don't like anybody! 
I only like myself". Ivan, five years old, ex- 
claimed: "I am nobody's nothing". 

Mothers are commonly advised not to visit 
their children during the first fortnight after 
separation. It is the common opinion that 
the pain of separation will then pass more 
quickly and cause less disturbance. In reality 
it is the very quickness of the child's break 


with the mother which contains all the dangers 
of abnormal consequences. Long drawn-out 
separation may bring more visible pain but it 
is less harmful because it gives the child time 
to accompany the events with his reactions, to 
work through his own feelings over and over 
again, to find outward expressions for his state 
of mind, i.e. to abreact slowly. Reactions which 
do not even reach the child's consciousness can 
do incalculable harm to its normality. 

Objection might be raised that emergency 
war conditions do not allow considerations of 
this kind to carry weight. Still, it seems pos- 
sible to base plans for "evacuation in slow- 
stages" on psychological convictions of this 

If children under five have to be evacuated, 
unattended like their bigger brothers and sis- 
ters they should at least not be sent out under 
harder conditions than the older ones. School 
children, even if they lose the connection with 
their homes, will at least retain the relation- 
ship to their school friends and to their 
teachers who go out with them. Under-fives 
who are sent to nurseries go into the complete 

One could conceive a plan under which all 
small children would be collected in day nur- 
series. They would get attached to their nurses 
and teachers and know the units in which they 


spend their days while they still live at home. 
In times of danger these day nurseries would 
be converted into residential nurseries and 
would be evacuated collectively. Mothers who 
refuse to part from their small children could 
be offered the chance to go too as paid domestic 
staff. Experience has shown that only a small 
percentage of all mothers would choose to do 
so. Under such conditions evacuation would 
lose its horrors for the young child and ab- 
normal reactions to it would become extremely 
rare. To maintain the remnants of the parent 
relationship as far as possible and simulta- 
neously to prepare the way for the return of 
children to their homes after the war, there 
should be little or no restriction of visiting 
rules. In our houses parents come and go when- 
ever their occupations leave them free to do 
so. Provision should be made for the possi- 
bility of such visits, as it is made for all the 
other bodily and educational needs of the child 
insofar as they are considered to be important. 
It will be still harder to devise proper means 
of evacuation for small babies. If infants have 
to be separated from their mothers in the first 
weeks of life in the interest of war work, it is 
best they go to creches near factories where 
mothers can deposit and collect them. This 
again does not solve the problem of shelter 
sleeping in times of danger. If babies go to 


residential homes these should be situated as 
near to the outskirts of the town as possible to 
encourage frequent visiting, With infants there 
arc no "remnants of a mother relationship" to 
maintain, and no memories to keep alive. The 
baby will have to make the acquaintance of his 
mother during the hours or days of visiting. 
There should certainly be some relation be- 
tween the frequency of visits and the ability 
reached by the infant to retain remembrance. 



The previous part of the book is based 
on case-history notes drawn from daily 
contact with a living, war-time laboratory. 
The succeeding reports give the reader an 
opportunity to follow intimately the events 
as they occurred and thus see how Anna 
Freud and Dorothy Burlingham reached 
their conclusions. 

January-February, 1941 

In day-time the life of the children does not 
differ in any way from that of an institution 
under peace-time conditions. The children 
play, paint, draw, sing, dance in the nurseries; 
go for walks in the street or play in our garden 
where they learn climbing on a jungle gym. 
We disregard day-light raids except for calling 
the children in from the garden or the street 
when the sirens go on. Londoners otherwise ig- 
nore day-light raids except when a plane is 
heard directly overhead. But it is thought best 
to keep children home during raids as much as 
possible, to avoid the chance of their being 
hit by odd pieces of shrapnel. 

Every evening, whether there is an air-raid 
or not, the children are settled down in their 
shelter beds, the shelter taking the place of an 
ordinary bed-room. This is much wiser than 
putting the children to bed upstairs and only 
taking them to shelter when the sirens go. The 
routine of their waking and sleeping remains 
in this way independent of air-raids and lulls. 
They go to bed at their usual time and there is 
no need to disturb them when hostilities begin 


Allaying Fear 

Even children whose mothers claimed that 
they had been badly frightened by raids 
showed, surprisingly enough, little interest in 
sirens, bombs, guns or "all clears." 

A girl of four years suggested to the kinder- 
garten teacher who was trying to quiet a noisy 
child in his shelter bed that, if he would not 
promise to be good, she should "take him up- 
stairs to a danger-room". 

A little girl of three and a half years, being 
asked whether she was pleased to see a visiting 
uncle, says crossly: "No, I want him bombed." 

Our big girls, six and nine years old, when 
we take them for a walk and pass by damaged 
houses make expert casual remarks: "Incendi- 
ary bomb". This is where the roof is burned 
out. "High explosive". This is where the walls 
are badly shaken. 

The same two girls tell about the time when 
they still lived with their parents in a badly 
bombed area: "Every evening when the first 
bombs came down, Daddy would grab his coat 
and run out to help and mummy would always 
call after him: 'Don't forget that we have two 
spare beds and bring in people if you find 
them homeless'." 

Children whose parents behave in that way, 
naturally show no sign of fear themselves. 

The father says of the six year old girl: 

"You would have to drop a bomb down her 
back before she would take notice!" 

It is different with the two of our children 
who were brought in by excessively nervous 
mothers, women who had developed states of 
grave anxiety after having been bombed, one 
at home and one in a shelter. Those mothers 
used to pull their children out of bed and 
stand around trembling; one child stood near 
his mother all night, unable to leave her. They 
naturally imparted their own fears to their 
children. But even these children, after the 
separation from their mothers, quickly lose 
their state of tension and settle down to or- 
dinary life. 

Parent Co-operation 

We were warned in the beginning that we 
would find the London parents of the poorer 
classes to be rather unappreciative, critical and 
only too glad to dump their children on us 
and forget all about them and their further 
obligations. What we experience is exactly the 
opposite. With the exception of three mothers 
whom one can hardly regard as responsible 
personalities, one can only admire the efforts 
which the parents make for their children 
under the worst possible conditions, their at- 
tempts at co-operation with us and their real 
delight at every chance which is offered to 


their children. They appreciate every improve- 
ment in health, weight or the happiness of the 

Parents of this class are used to obeying 
hospital rules regarding visiting. They are 
surprised and delighted when they hear that 
we are glad to have them come at any time. 
If their occupation allows, they can come free- 
ly to take their children out for walks, bathe 
them, put them to bed in the evening, and 
share their meals without any undue interfer- 
ence with our household routine. In practice 
this only happens during week-ends when our 
home sometimes takes on the character of a 
coffee house, club or restaurant. 

It is true that in this way children take a 
longer time to get over the separation from 
their parents and the repeated "separations" 
after visiting days are often followed by out- 
burst of crying and violent emotions. But we 
consider this slower method of overcoming 
the shock of separation as much less harmful to 
the child than the traumatic one usual in 
evacuation when many little children who have 
never been away from their mothers for a sin- 
gle night, are suddenly taken from them, not 
to see them again for weeks or even months. 


March i'Hl 

Life in London has been greatly influenced 
by the fact that bombing was less regular and 
that there was even a long succession of quiet 
nights. The very few bad air-raids that oc- 
curred did no damage in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of the Nursery. 

Since darkness comes later, the children are 
usually asleep now before any noise is to be 
heard. The exception was one evening raid 
when noise of terrific anti-aircraft fire struck 
the children at the time of settling down to 
sleep. There was one child only, Charlie, four 
and a half years old, who showed genuine signs 
of anxiety. Pauline, four and a half years old, 
who usually adopts a motherly attitude to- 
wards him as a playmate, advised him to 
"cover himself right over" as she always did 
in such cases. All other children did not seem 
to pay overmuch attention either to the dan- 
ger or to Charlie's state of anxiety. 

It may be interesting to note in this respect 
that Charlie, who is the child most easily wor- 
ried about war dangers, is one of the few 
children in the house who has not been 
through the experience of being actually bomb- 
ed. Pauline on the other hand is one of the 
"bombed" children. A bomb which fell in the 


street next to the one in which she lived with 
her mother and grandmother took off the 
roof of her house and destroyed the attic room 
from which the family had just escaped down- 
stairs a few seconds before. 

With other children also over-sensitiveness to 
danger seems to have nothing to do with the 
actual experience of bombing which has gone 
before. We can still only see that the children's 
fears are to a large extent dependent on their 
parents' anxieties wherever it is existent. After 
separation from those parents, fears either van- 
ish or decrease. Anxiety of playmates does not 
seem to be infectious in the same sense. 

A closer examination of the applications re- 
ceived shows that the children most physically 
endangered by the present state of affairs are 
those up to two years of age. It is easy to 
understand that infants simply cannot live in 
a state of emergency. The same conditions 
which to the fully developed individual only 
mean a passing state of discomfort of body or 
mind are capable of completely arresting or 
seriously damaging the development of the 
growing human being. The younger and more 
undeveloped the individual the more serious 
the consequences. We have, after all, always 
known that development demands its own con- 
ditions, irrespective of war and peace or all 
other happenings in the outer world. 



Patrick, a boy of three years and two months, 
of pleasing appearance, well built and rather 
big for his age, was sent to us after one un- 
successful attempt at evacuation to the country. 
In the billet where he had been placed, he had, 
as the report stated, "fretted" so much for his 
mother that he was sent back to her after a 
very few days. Unluckily their reunion was of 
short duration. He contracted measles and had 
to suffer another enforced separation from his 
mother. After dismissal from hospital she 
brought him directly to us since she had been 
warned not to take him after illness to the 
Tube station where she herself was sleeping 
regularly with her husband. She admonished 
him to be "a good boy", and promised to visit 
him if he would promise not to cry for her. 

The state of affairs that devleoped after she 
left was a most unhappy one. Patrick tried 
to keep his promise and was not seen crying. 
Instead he would nod his head whenever any- 
one looked at him and assured himself and 
anybody who cared to listen with the greatest 
show of confidence that his mother would 
come for him, that she would put on his over- 
coat and would take him home with her again. 
Whenever a listener seemed to believe him 
he was satisfied; whenever anybody contradic- 
ted him, he would burst into violent tears. 


This same state of affairs continued through 
the next two or three days with several addi- 
tions. The nodding took on a more compulsive 
and automatic character: "My mother will 
put on my overcoat and take me home again." 

Later an ever growing list of clothes that 
his mother was supposed to put on him was 
added: "She will put on my overcoat and my 
leggings, she will zip up the zipper, she will 
put on my pixie hat." 

When the repetitions of this formula became 
monotonous and endless, somebody asked him 
whether he could not stop saying it all over 
again. Again Patrick tried to be the good boy 
that his mother wanted him to be. He stopped 
repeating the formula aloud but his moving 
lips showed that he was saying it over and 
over to himself. 

At the same time he substituted for the 
spoken words gestures that showed the position 
of his pixie hat, the putting on of an imaginary 
coat, the zipping of the zipper etc. What 
showed as an expressive movement one day, 
was reduced the next to a mere abortive flicker 
of his fingers. While the other children were 
mostly busy with their toys, playing games, 
making music etc., Patrick, totally uninterest- 
ed, would stand somewhere in a corner, move 
his hands and lips with an absolutely tragic 
expression on his face. These movements also 


would not stop when he was dressing or eat- 
ing, going up or downstairs. He refused most 
kinds of food but would drink milk plentifully. 

We were shocked to see an apparently 
healthy child develop a compulsive tie under 
our very eyes. All attempts to get in con- 
tact with him were unsatisfactory. Not that 
it was impossible to break in on his compul- 
sive behaviour with understanding words, af- 
fection and sympathy. But in such moments, 
instead of reiterating his false assurances, he 
would break through to the truth, burst into 
tears and develop an excess of grief that one 
felt at a loss how to meet. 

From the second day on we had made at- 
tempts to reach his mother and induce her to 
visit him regularly. Unluckily again she had 
fallen ill with a bad influenza and was lying in 
a hospital. A Sunday afternoon visit from his 
father did not bring the slightest comfort. It 
took more than a week before his mother was 
dismissed from the hospital. She came im- 
mediately to us. We discussed the situation 
with her and persuaded her to stay in our 
house for a while. 

The aspect of Patrick's state changed im- 
mediately. He dropped his symptom and in- 
stead clung to his mother with the utmost 
tenacity. For several days and nights he 
would hardly leave her side. Whenever she 


went upstairs or downstairs, Patrick was trail- 
ing after her. Whenever she disappeared for 
a minute we could hear his anxious question- 
ing through the house, or see him open the 
door of every room and look searchingly into 
every corner. No one was allowed to touch 
him, his mother bathed him, put him to sleep 
and had her shelter bed next to his. 

A few days were sufficient to do away also 

with this abnormal state of affairs. Slowly 

Patrick lost his excessive clinging and turned 

at times to the other children to join in their 

play. His mother was first allowed to go home 

for an hour to cook a meal for his father. He 

would wait anxiously for her reappearance and 

signs of the former anxiety would show in 

his expression. But after a further week or 

two these symptoms also disappeared. Patrick's 

mother was allowed to come and go freely and 

Patrick became a member of the Nursery like 

any other child. 

At the present time he is one of the most 
active children in the playroom; his rather 
girlish mannerisms having changed to definite- 
ly boyish behaviour. He jumps and climbs, is 
very good at building and keeps busy from 
morning till night. He is a very good eater, 
only satisfied after repeated helpings. 

After some consideration, we offered the 
mother, who is an unusually fine woman and 


has at some former time been employed as 
charwoman in a day Nursery, the paid post of 
emergency night nurse in our two shelters. 
That means that she still spends five nights 
weekly in the same house with Patrick, the 
other two at home or in the Tube station with 
her husband. But it does not seem to affect 
Patrick now whether she sleeps in or out. 

The interesting point about that story is that 
it does not seem to be the fact of separation 
from the mother to which the child reacts in 
this abnormal manner, but the traumatic way 
in which this separation takes place. Patrick 
can dissociate himself from his mother when 
he is given three or four weeks to accomplish 
this task. If he has to do it all in one day 
it is a shock to which he answers with the pro- 
duction of symptoms. That means that even 
children with the neurotic possibilities of Pat- 
rick's kind could be spared much unnecessary 
suffering and symptom formation by more care- 
ful handling. 

April 1041 


An outstanding event during this month was 

the big air attack on London on the night of 

Wednesday, 16th of April. Even for people 

who had gone through the period of so called 


Blitz in September and October 1940, the 
events of this night were rather surprising and 
alarming. There was more gun fire than ever 
before, the sound of falling bombs was con- 
tinuous, the crackling of fires which had been 
started could be heard in the distance and 
again all these sounds were drowned by the 
incessant droning of air planes which flew over 
London, not in successive waves as in former 
raids, but in one uninterrupted stream from 
9 p.m. until 5 a.m. 

The elder members of the staff were, of 
course, awake and patrolled the house, the 
younger members went down from their attic 
bedrooms and joined the children in the shel- 
ter. The children themselves, to our astonish- 
ment, slept peacefully as usual and never no- 
ticed what was going on above them. 

Whether it was due to the fact that the 
heavy wooden beams of the shelter ceiling 
lessens all noise, or whether the quiet atmos- 
phere in which they had fallen asleep carried 
them through the restlessness of the night out- 
side, — the facts are that no one took notice 
except Patrick who sat up suddenly and said: 
"Gun fire." 

His mother who was on shelter duty an- 
swered: "Yes, but gun fire does not hurt any- 
body", whereupon Patrick lay down and slept 


Pamela woke up as usual and asked to be 
put on the pot but remained completely ob- 
livious of the bombing. The two babies Gra- 
ham and Roy woke once and cried for a while 
but since that happened nearly every night, it 
is difficult to determine whether it had any 
connection with the outside noises. 

Everybody slept in the shelter after the 
"All Clear". The morning, of course, was 
different than usual. Whoever came in from 
the outside brought tales of damage and de- 
struction. Our old job man who lives in a 
more exposed district can, on such occasions, 
hardly be stopped from counting corpses and 
revelling in lurid details to which the children 
like to listen eagerly. 

In the garden, later in the morning, the chil- 
dren had occasion to watch an airplane in 
the sky. 

An adult said: "Look, it is writing!" 

A statement which Pamela corrected by say- 
ing: "Only scribbling." 

None of the children seemed to connect the 
sight of an airplane with the idea of possible 
danger. Still, the children seemed rather more 
restless or excitable than usual as a result of the 
tales which they had overheard. 

They were watched playing a new kind of 
game. Some of them climbed up on the jungle 
gym, and regardless of danger to those stand- 


ing underneath, tried to drop a heavy iron 
shoe scraper onto them, which they had remov- 
ed from the doorstep and carried up to the 
heights. When warned not to do this, they 
proudly asserted that this was a bomb which 
they were about to drop. 

Little Barbara who had not been big or 
strong enough to join in the game, suddenly 
brought a handful of sand, threw it onto the 
others and declared it was a "gas bomb". Since 
the sand got into the children's faces and eyes, 
this game was not found to be enjoyable. 

Nothing further of an unusual kind happen- 
ed during the rest of the day. Also the chil- 
dren showed no anxiety when they were put 
to bed in the evening. 

Only three days later, on Saturday night, 
when again a bigger raid seemed to develop, 
little Jill suddenly asked: "Are the Germans 
coming again?" 

But she did not pursue the subject nor did 
fear develop. 


Iris, three years ten months old, had been 
sent to us originally partly because her family 
had been bombed out, partly because of a ner- 
vous cough which she had started soon after 
her father died as the result of lung trouble. 
When living with us her nervous symptom? 


came and went. Lately, she had been free from 
it for some time. During April she fell ill with 
tonsillitis. While she was in bed with a tempe- 
rature, her nervous cough returned and de- 
veloped into a regular attack of asthma bron- 
chiale, with all the usual somatic accompani- 
ments. Her tonsillitis together with her asthma 
disappeared within a few days. She was well 
for a while and then again returned to the 
sickroom with a slight cold aggravated by her 
usual nervous cough. So far we understand 
little about the origin and development of 
Iris' symptom. There is the suspicion, of course, 
that her cough had started in imitation of her 
father's cough. 

The mother herself reports that a neighbour 
suddenly said to her: "Don't you notice, Mrs. 
Coster, that Iris coughs exactly the way her 
father did." 

A tendency for hysterical identification is 
very evident in Iris' case. She picks up habits 
from the other children, adopts them as her 
own, drops them again after a while and picks 
up new ones. In the beginning, when she had 
formed a friendship with Barbara, a little girl 
of her own age, she suddenly started the same 
temper tantrums that had made Barbara con- 
spicuous in the house. Though she is no thumb 
sucker herself, she suddenly started sucking her 
thumb in a way that is peculiar to Keith, a boy 


more than a year her junior. Her latest habit 
is a sort of grimacing, the origin of which, we 
are at the moment attempting to find among 
the other members of the house. It is interest- 
ing to note that during every illness, her notice- 
able affection for the doctor is greatly in- 
creased. This was particularly marked during 
the periods of asthma when the presence of the 
doctor helped to lessen her anxiety during at- 


While daily all over England more and 
more children are separated from their moth- 
ers and evacuated for the sake of safety, our 
interest is still held by the various possible re- 
sults of such separations. 


We had another opportunity of observing 
the worst effects of sudden separation in Jill, 
a little girl, two and a half years old. In ac- 
cepting Jill we gave in to the urging of her 
mother who was frightened that the child 
would either be infected with TB by the 
grandmother with whom she shared the room 
or with some kind of shelter disease in the 
very primitive place where they all spent the 
nights. The mother seemed rather desperate 
and worn out with anxiety. She begged us to 
let Jill benefit by the favourable conditions in 


our house, at least for the few weeks which she 
would need to find a billet in the country for 
herself together with the child. 

Jill was a beautiful little girl, marvelously 
developed, sparkling with life and gaiety and 
seemed extremely independent for her age. It 
was this very independence of the child to- 
gether with her evident interest in the toys, the 
other children and the new surroundings which 
decided us to fall in with the mother's wishes. 
Jill was taken to the nursery where she was 
deep in play after a few minutes. She said 
good bye to her mother in a friendly way but 
hardly noticed when her mother left her. Only 
half an hour after her mother had left the 
house, Jill suddenly realised what had hap- 
pened. She interrupted her play, rushed out of 
the nursery and opened every door in the house 
to look for her mother in the room behind it. 
In her running around she behaved exactly like 
a stray dog who has lost his master. This lasted 
a few minutes and then she rejoined the play- 

These attacks of frantic search repeated 
themselves with ever greater frequency. Jill's 
expression changed, her brightness disappear- 
ed, her smiles gave way to an unusually sullen 
frown which changed the whole aspect of the 
child. It is difficult to say, of course, whether 
this sullenness of Jill's was completely new or 


whether this was the way in which she had 
reacted already to difficulties in her former 

The hope that Jill with her outgoing manner 
would soon attach herself exclusively to some 
adult person in the house was not fulfilled. 
Her interest seemed to turn first to one of the 
workers in the nursery itself but before a real 
attachment was formed she suddenly developed 
a great liking for our nurse and clung to her 
with unexpected affection. But also this at- 
tachment had no time to ripen. Jill suddenly 
showed a decided preference for men, turned 
to all male visitors, claimed other children's 
daddies loudly as her own and would on even- 
ings or Sunday afternoon sit for hours on a 
visitor's or fire watcher's lap, much to the 
men's embarrassment. Her attitude was little 
influenced by visits from her mother who came 
at times and took her out for walks. Her pre- 
ference for men would indicate that her af- 
fection had turned from her mother to her fa- 
ther; but when, during her stay with us, her 
father suddenly appeared on army leave, she 
did not appear to treat him differently from 
other visitors. 

Something had evidently gone completely 
wrong in her relations with the grown-up 
world. Her outstanding symptom was the con- 
tinual abandoning of people she was attached 


to at the moment, for the sake of others who 
were new to her. 

Whereas in Patrick's case separation from 
the mother had brought on a compulsive cling- 
ing to her memory, in Jill's case the result was 
outwardly the opposite. She lost the stable re- 
lationship to her parents which had so far 
governed her life, was unable to form new 
attachments and lived continually in search and 
expectation accompanied by feelings of deep 
discontent. We - know this symptom of flight 
from one object to the other in adult neurotics 
as one of the results of early disturbances of 
their mother relationship. 

Though Jill's symptoms quieted down and 
were less apparent after a few weeks, especially 
after a prolonged stay in the sickroom where 
she was surrounded by a quiet home-like at- 
mosphere, she never regained her high spirits 
and bright appearance which had been her 
outstanding characteristics when she came. 

Jill's mother found her billet in the country 
and took her off according to arrangement after 
she had been with us for eight weeks. In her 
case the physical advantages of being saved 
from shelter life were outweighed by the shock 
the separation from her mother meant for her. 
She was given no time for psychic preparation. 
On the one hand separation was too complete, 
on the other hand her stay under the new con- 

111 " 

ditions was too short to make up for all the 
misery of adaptation. 

Hetty and Christine 

The two next examples are meant to show 
two children under the influence of an identi- 
cal situation where the handling was complete- 
ly different each time. 

Hetty, two years one month old, and Chris- 
tine, seventeen months old, were both brought 
to stay while their mothers went to the hospital 
to be delivered of another baby. 

In Hetty's case this was done with fore- 
sight and intelligent planning from the moth- 
er's side. She brought her as a day child more 
than two months before the expected birth of 
the new baby. She helped the child through 
a period of adaptation to daily life shared with 
other children which was by no means easy. 
Hetty was shy, at times aggressive, withdrawn 
and often unresponsive. She slowly accustomed 
herself to the nursery. A week before the ex- 
pected confinement she entered the house as 
a boarder, slept in the shelter with the other 
children whom she already knew well but was 
rewarded in day time by frequent visits from 
her mother. When her mother at last disap- 
peared into the maternity hospital, Hetty was 
used to her new surroundings, felt at home and 
showed no ill effects of any kind. 


Christine, on the other hand was brought two 
or three days previous to her mother's confine- 
ment and left at once and completely though 
she had never before left her mother's side and 
had evidently been taken care of very well by 
her mother. She found herself unexpectedly in 
completely strange surroundings to which she 
reacted in a most bewildered way. 

For days she sat or stood around quietly or 
crying and would only at intervals say: "Mum, 

She did it in a surprisingly deep voice. 
Similarly to Jill, but again in a completely 
different manner, she would sometimes stretch 
out her arms to visitors. She was at times con- 
tent when she could sit on somebody's lap with 
her face averted. Probably she imagined her- 
self in this position to be sitting on her moth- 
er's lap without being disturbed by the sight 
of a strange face. 

She fell ill about a week after her arrival 
and reacted during her illness with apathy and 
Iistlessness. In the last week, when she was 
gradually getting better in the sickroom she 
was at last reported to have smiled and even 
joined in play with other children. 

Again, these descriptions show that it is 
not the task of separation from the mother it- 
self which is impossible to accomplish for the 
small child. The decisive factor for the normal 


or abnormal outcome seems to be the time 
given, which after all means the presence or 
absence of traumatic chock. 

In this case of a nervously unstable mother 
and child it was certainly only the ample time 
given for adaptation which prevented serious 
outbreaks of neurotic symptoms and behav- 

May 1941 


There were many people who felt that the 
great air attacks of Saturday, May 10th, were 
even worse than those of April 16th. Curiously 
enough, there was not the same state of excite- 
ment and restlessness on the day after. When 
our old gardener again appeared with the 
story of a big bomb, nobody believed him. 
Whether it was the feeling that we again had 
had a lucky escape, or whether it was that this 
time not one among our parents had suffered 
personally, the facts are that the Sunday 
following, the raid developed into the most 
peaceful day, we had experienced in the Centre. 
It was the first sunny springlike Sunday. Par- 
ents came and went from morning till evening, 
sat down to meals, or walked around our gar- 
den, watching their children at play. 

Through this atmosphere of peace it slowly 
transpired that our old gardener had after all 
been right in his report. Next morning, we 


noticed that the neighbouring house and the 
street leading to it were roped off. When we 
questioned the police, we were told the follow- 
ing: there was a possibility that the bomb 
might still explode — in that case it would bring 
down the next house; ours was considered to be 
just outside the danger zone but on no ac- 
count should we let the children go into the 

We were grateful to escape the great dis- 
comfort of being evacuated on the spot because 
it would have been none too easy to find good 
accomodation for 34 children at short notice. 
We kept the children in the house for one 
whole day; after that, we were offered the loan 
of a garden just across the street. Our children 
were only too happy to be released from im- 
prisonment again and from then on the daily 
routine was changed to meet the new condi- 
tions. Since the weather was warm and sunny 
our house stayed deserted most of the time. A 
procession of our children was continually on 
its way either to or from that other garden, the 
older children with a weak attempt to walk in 
orderly fashion, the toddlers escaping in all 
directions and the babies being wheeled over 
in their baby carriages. 

A bomb at a great distance may be an object 
of horror. A bomb, on the other hand, which 
settles down so near to one's own household is 


somehow included in it and soon becomes an 
object of familiarity. It is true that on the 
first day an unexploded bomb is contemplated 
with respect and suspicion. When it delays 
exploding, the reaction in the people around is 
not, as one should expect — one of thankfulness 
and relief. The reaction is rather one of an- 
noyance with it which develops into contempt 
for the bomb as the days go by. The bomb is 
treated more like an impostor who has formed 
us into an attitude of submission under false 
pretences. In the end, when no one believes 
in its explosiveness any more, it sinks down to 
the position of being a bore. 

Since the children know of course about this 
situation, we watched them closely for signs of 
anxiety. But in spite of the fact that most of 
them had been driven out of their homes by 
bomb explosions they did not seem to connect 
the idea of the bomb with the idea of possible 

Even Constance, nine years old, was heard 
to say in an angry tone: "I wish the bomb 
would explode so that we can use the garden 

The nursery children were mostly impressed 
by the fact that our garden was closed to them. 
They were resigned during the first week. On 
the tenth day a group of them after meal time 
suddenly dashed for the garden entrance. 


When caught and brought back, Pamela in- 
sisted: "There is no bomb". 

When this was turned down, they all 
screamed in chorus: "There is no bomb! We 
are going out in the garden!" 

Pamela then came in again and said firmly: 
"It has exploded". 

This attitude of denying what is unpleasant 
and disturbing in reality is natural enough to 
children. It is more surprising that also our 
grown up staff was not inclined to act other- 
wise. Our social worker decided that this was 
the appropriate time to give the garden a real- 
ly good overhaul. Whatever grass had sur- 
vived on the children's playground was cut, a 
new sandpit dug, and the jungle gym re- 

Whenever anyone tried to send a member of 
the staff out of the garden, he was met with the 
indignant remark that after all "the bomb 
would not go off just at this moment". 

Though certainly all our windows would 
have been smashed if the explosion had oc- 
curred, no one in the house was ever seen to 
keep away from windows. 

Our bomb once more became impressive 
when after much hard labour a bomb disposal 
detachment of soldiers had dug it out of its 
crater and loaded it on a truck to be removed. 
Its presence in the street, which by now had 


been re-opened, excited much comment among 
the passersby. We saw mothers lift small ba- 
bies to admire it and everybody watched while 
the soldiers tied red silk ribbons to the rear 
of the car as a sign of danger in the case of 
collision. They sat all around it and drove off 
joking and singing. 

When the good news that the bomb had 
gone was spread in the house, we again watch- 
ed for reactions of relief. All we could find 
was an immediate desire on the part of the 
children to regain possession of the garden. 

Charlie, four years ten months, asked with 
great interest whether the soldiers had driven 
the bomb off "in a lorry". To him the ever 
fascinating question of transport was more out- 
standing than the danger element implied. 
The complete reversal of all values was most 
distinctly shown in the way our social worker 
met the good news. He said : "I wish they had 
left it two days longer so that the jungle gym 
would have had time to dry." 

When the soldiers returned to fill up the 
empty crater they were invited to have tea in 
our dining room where the children met them. 
It was at this occasion that some of the chil- 
dren showed definite signs of fear or anxious- 
ness. "Fear of the bomb" was quite outside the 
range of their infantile emotions. "Fear of the 
big man" is a recognised and typical childhood 


fear. That the bomb meant real danger to 
them and the "big men" protection against it 
did not play a part in the situation. 

Some of the children were perfectly natural, 
played with the soldiers, made friends with 
them and tried on their caps. Patrick put on 
an overboisterous and joking manner which 
he only does when he is afraid of something. 
Pauline and Iris on the other hand covered 
their eyes with their hands and could not be 
induced to look at the soldiers. 

Artificial Orphans 

We found to our own astonishment when 
questioning the parents about a possible evacu- 
ation of their children to a country place that 
the same mothers who three months earlier 
refused to be separated from the children com- 
pletely would be now perfectly ready to let 
them go. Much has been said in the news- 
papers, by various authorities and in the re- 
ception areas about the unreliability of mothers 
who will send their children to the country one 
day and drag them back to the bombed areas 
a week later. We so far have not had a single 
experience of this kind. 

The psychic problem of the infant who has 
been evacuated is not easy to solve. For a child 
under three years of age it is extremely difficult 
to maintain a normal emotional relationship 


with an absent love object. We say in ordinary 
language that the small child forgets quickly. 
It really means that the material and emotional 
needs of the child cannot be satisfied from the 
distance. The love of the infant for his mother 
is closely bound up with the fulfilment of these 
needs. If the mother is absent, the child forms, 
after a short period of longing, a new relation- 
ship to a substitute mother. The relation to the 
real mother has become unsatisfactory and is 
driven from consciousness. 

We can only surmise from later behaviour 
what changes it has undergone inside and what 
has become of it. Normally this period of 
"mourning" lasts only a very few days. After 
that, if the mother does not show herself again, 
the child settles down "quite happily". Where 
the psychic make-up of the child is more ad- 
vanced or more complicated, adaptation takes a 
longer time. Some children will cling to the 
memory of their mother in a compulsive man- 
ner. We have given an example of this type of 
behaviour in the case of Patrick. Others will 
build up a constant phantasy of family life, put 
it in the place of the lost reality and work it off 
in play. 

The most serious objection against war time 
evacuation of young children without their 
mothers is, therefore, that it produces artificial 
orphans. It is common knowledge that after the 


death of the father or mother small children 
behave as if their parents had just gone away. 
We can certainly say that when parents have 
only "gone away" the children behave as if 
they had died. This only means to say that the 
important factor for the small child is bodily 
absence or presence of the mother. The ques- 
tion of existence or non-existence in the real 
world seems to be beyond the child's emotional 

But even though, in that sense, all these little 
children who are separated from their parents 
are war orphans, the attitude of the world 
around is to disregard the identity of the inner 
psychic situation of the two kinds of children 
and cling to the importance of the outer real- 
ity. The child whose parents have been killed 
in an air-raid is an object of pity and all the 
difficulties that he shows seem somehow natural 
and are met with tolerance. The child who is 
only billeted in the country while his parents 
continue to live in London is only considered 
to "fret" and expected to get over it "in no 
time". Therefore it is precisely the study of 
the real war orphan and his reactions which 
may be of help to create a better understanding 
of the "evacuated" child. 


June- July 1941 

Since Patrick's recovery he had seen his 
mother almost daily or at least four or five 
times a week while she worked on night duty 
in our shelter. She had to stop her duties be- 
cause of her pregnancy with a new baby and 
in the eighth month of pregnancy went to the 
hospital with varicose veins. She was immedi- 
ately evacuated to the country. 

Patrick, on our insistence, was permitted to 
see her once before she went but was, of course, 
unable to visit her again during the last three 
weeks. To our own astonishment he remained 
normal this time. Slight signs of anxiousness 
and disturbance disappeared after his one visit 
to the hospital. Since then he has remained 
perfectly normal, has not changed his behav- 
iour or his activities in the nursery and has not 
shown compulsive symptoms of any kind. 

The only faint traces of his former trouble 
are an occasional overinsistence in asking 
whether his "daddy is sure to come and take 
him out on Sunday", and a certain withdrawal 
of interest when his mother is mentioned by 
outsiders. On the other hand, he quite normally 
questions his father about his mother's where- 
abouts, is perfectly aware of the whole situa- 
tion and even passes on to us reports about his 


mother's state of health. He can now sensibly 
manage the same situation which made him ill 
before. This would be easy to understand if in 
the meantime he had undergone psychic treat- 
ment. Since this has not been the case, the 
factor responsible for the change is evidently 
the time factor. As stated before, he was able 
to digest in the course of several months the 
same experience which had acted on him as a 
traumati c sho ck when he had been only given 
a few hours to adapt to the situation. 

Under the conditions in our house where 
children see the parents from whom they are 
separated fortnightly, weekly and in some 
cases even two or three times a week, it is 
instructive to follow the changes which the 
parent-child relationship undergoes. The first 
three or four visits by the mother usually have 
the sole effect of reproducing the shock of the 
original se para tion. The children long for the 
coming of the parents, greet them with all 
signs of pleasure, cling to them during their 
visit and usually burst into tears at the renewed 
parting. After this experience has been re- 
peated several times the parting loses its dra- 
matic significance and the children seem to feel 
certain that the mother who disappears will 
reappear again. 

This period of overvaluation of the 
parents lasted, perhaps three months — with the 


older children three and four years of age. 
During the last month we entered into a new 
phase of the parent-child relationship. The 
children were still very pleased to see their 
parents but the time spent with them was not 
as greatly valued as before. 

For example, Beverly's parents say: "She 
hardly talks to us when we take her out for a 
walk and whenever she sees another child she 
wants to run and play with her". 

Rosemary's mother will sit for hours on end 
on her visiting days and never say a word. 
Rosemary dutifully stands next to her and re- 
mains as silent as her mother. As soon as her 
mother is gone, she revives and returns to her 
usual activity and endless talking. David who 
receives visits from his mother very often runs 
back to the other children afterwards as if he 
were afraid of having missed too much. 

All this is of course the natural process of 
shifting affection and interest which is so well 
known in children of boarding school age. 


The child for whom the loss of his parents 
has had the most serious consequences is a little 
boy of now four and a half years. 

Bertie's father was killed while working 
during an air-raid in the course of the autumn 
raids on London. His mother had had a com- 


plete breakdown and had been committed to 
a mental hospital. 

Bertie is a slim, good-looking boy, very clean 
cut with a clear skin and delicate features. He 
is extremely friendly, rather gay and, in the 
manner of children who have spent a long time 
in hospitals, he does not differentiate over-much 
between the various grownup figures but 
greets everybody with an impartial smile. 

While in bed he was always deep in play and 
would keep himself busy with a few tiny toy 
cars, a set of paper houses and similar play 
things. He never mentioned his parents and 
seemed so unconcerned about everything that 
we doubted whether any knowledge of the 
family tragedy had ever reached him. 

After a while we had the opportunity of 
questioning a cousin of his mother's who visited 
him. We learned that Bertie did not only know 
of his father's death but had actually shared all 
his mother's grief and anxiety. His parents had 
been devoted to each other; his mother had 
never let Bertie out of her sight. 

One day during the period of the big raids 
the father had not returned from work for his 
midday meal and after waiting for him for 
hours the mother had started the usual search. 
She took Bertie along wherever she went, to all 
the people she questioned, to the police and 
even in the end, to the morgue. Here he was 


denied admission but he waited outside while 
his mother found and identified his father's 
body. He was taken to the funeral and to the 
early visits to his father's grave. After that he 
fell ill with tonsillitis and was taken to the hos- 
pital where he came down with scarlet fever. 

For his mother the separation from the child 
renewed the shock which she had received 
from the father's death. She believed Bertie 
dead also and began to search for him in 
the same frantic manner. Her psychotic attack 
with hallucinations followed soon after. The 
mother's cousin repeatedly said how good 
Bertie had been to his mother and how he had 
tried to comfort her in every way. 

Since we knew the story we tried carefully 
to lead back Bertie's mind to his past experi- 
ences. He would now admit that his mother 
was in the hospital. 

Certain things reappeared which he had 
probably been told during his hospital time: 
He should always eat his midday meal like his 
father, then he would soon be a big boy and 
would be taken to visit his mother. 

Whenever anybody asked what he wanted to 
be, he would say automatically and quickly: 
"Big boy". When questioned about his father 
he said: "He is a workman who tidies away 
the bricks from the houses which Hitler threw 


When the unexploded bomb was lying near 
the house, Bertie's mind was filled with ideas 
of soldiers, Hitler and bombing. He would 
bomb his paper houses by the hour, throw 
them down and carefully put them up again. 

When taken to the window, he would vague- 
ly point in some direction and say: "Look what 
Hitler has done". 

One morning he suddenly woke in a state 
of great excitement. He first talked to himself 
loudly for awhile, then called a young nurse to 
his bed and told her to listen to him. From then 
on during the day he repeated his story to 
whomsoever wanted to hear it. He told how 
his father and other men had been at work 
when the bombs started to fall. They had all 
crowded into the underground station which 
was enormously strong, so strong that no bombs 
could hit them. Then a "puff puff train" had 
come and taken them all in and taken them to 
a place in the country where workmen were 
needed. They were still working there. When 
the war was over his father would get another 
"puff puff train" and come back. 

Another version of the story said: In the 
morning his father had taken his hat and stick 
and his mackintosh, because it was raining. 
When he did not come back, he Bertie, had 
also taken his hat and his overcoat, put on his 
shoes, had gone out and had brought him home. 


In addition to the story, he said his mother 
was not in the hospital any more. She was all 
well and living in the country and after the 
war was over, she would also get into a train 
and come back. 

Bertie had evidently found a happy solution 
for the insoluble problem of his parents' fate. 
It is possible that all this talking represented 
the contents of a dream which he had had at 
night. But it is also possible that this story had 
slowly prepared itself in him in the foregoing 
weeks and that he had shifted and reshifted all 
the facts and, with the help of wish phantasies, 
had altered the events to his own satisfaction. 

We realise that the fact of his father's death 
is denied from the beginning; his mother's ill- 
ness which he had accepted first as a fact has 
also been denied. The phantasy of himself as 
the hero who finds his father and triumphantly 
returns him to the mother has originated prob- 
ably at the time of his mother's search when he 
tried his best to comfort her. 

Wherever an anxious situation arises, reassur- 
ance is immediately given by stress on the op- 
posite fact. He tightly clenches his hands in the 
effort to show the strength and safety of the 
underground station. The fullfillment of all 
wishes , i.e. the reunion of the family is prom- 
ised for a vague future. 

Talk about these matters disappeared com- 


pJetely after two days. What remained was a 
great pleasure in playing bombing, killing and 
war in general, a game in which several other 
boys joined with pleasure. 

When promised to be taken on a shopping 
expedition, he again awoke in the morning in 
great excitement and declared to several peo- 
ple: "My daddy is by now ready to come 

In his thoughts, or maybe again in a dream 
he had mixed up the event of the shopping 
expedition with the expected event of his 
father's return. In the street he showed great 
fear of and interest in motor cars. He refused 
to cross the street whenever one is anywhere in 
sight. In the same way he showed a great fear 
of catching cold and falling ill. When on a stif- 
ling day his cardigan was taken off, he im- 
mediately ran for his overcoat so as not to "fall 
ill and go to the hospital". 

In the shop he was very friendly with the 
shop assistant and told her: "I used to live in 
London before. But London is bombed to 
pieces, all the houses have fallen down and all 
the people are gone". London in his mind evi- 
dently stands for his past with his parents. 

Lately he has had many visits from his 
mother's cousin who during a fortnight's holi- 
day from work has taken him several times to 
her small flat. He there sees pieces of furniture 



which used to belong to his parents. He returns 
from these visits greatly agitated. He show's not 
the least outward sign of mourning or longing 
for his parents but he will sometimes d'uring 
play suddenly jump up and rush aimlessly to 
the far corners of the nursery in a curious rab- 
bit-like manner. Such spells of unaccountable 
behaviour are usually of very short duration. 
He will stop them just as suddenly and con- 
tinue whatever occupation he was following 

It seems certain that Bertie finds it difficult 
to distinguish between the manner of disap- 
pearance of his father and his mother. He 
probably believes that his mother is dead as is 
his father. This is indicated in his phantasy of 
their being in the country and of their return- 
ing in the same manner after the war. It is 
interesting to note, though, that even in his 
phantasy his father and mother are not to- 
gether; they are kept in different places. 

August 194 1 

The children's excitement to see the country 
house had reached its highest pitch. Innumer- 
able questions and remarks cropped up con- 
tinually. Though no one had ever promised 


them cows or horses, these two animals seemed 
to be inseparably bound up with their idea of 
country life. 

Charlie said whenever he felt angry: "I will 
hit all the cows and horses in the country 

Pauline said: "I will jump on the cows". 

Pamela asked: "Are the cows ready now"? 

Whenever the children felt angry with some- 
body they would say: "You cannot come to 
our country house". 

When the departure was at last announced 
for a definite day, Roger said triumphantly: 
"The war is over, peace has come and we are 
going to the country. But the war has lasted a 
long time". 

His idea of evacuation did not quite coincide 
with ours; his desire for the advent of peace 
and his desire for the departure to the country 
house had merged into one. 

On Saturday, 23 August, the children were 
taken out in the American ambulance and two 
other cars, accompanied by four adults, one 
dog and one canary. On arrival the children 
were overjoyed to see their new home, a 
charming, friendly modern building with all 
the necessary conveniences, an immense 
ground floor studio serving as the big nursery, 
two huge south rooms with bay windows for 
the toddlers' bedroom and playroom, a covered 


porch leading down to terraced lawns .for per- 
fect playgrounds, outhouses, a vegetable and 
berry garden and a huge orchard with three 
little chicken houses. The absence of horses 
and cows was not commented upon. The chil- 
dren found their bedrooms faultlessly set up 
and ready to be slept in, the first meal set out 
on their small tables and the nursery prepared 
with material for play and work. 

Beverly said with great satisfaction after a 
visit to the dormitories : "I am going to s 1 e e p 
upstairs tonight and not downstairs". This 
meant: I am going to sleep in a proper bed- 
room again after eight months of shelter sleep- 
ing in a basement. 

Some outstanding examples of the shock of 
separation are the following: 

There was Mary, two years and eight months 
old, whose mother brought the child to the 
nursery so that she could take up munition 
work. Mary who is a gay and beautiful girl, 
well developed for her age, seemed at first de- 
lighted with the new experience. But when 
after several hours she understood that this 
meant separation from her mother she broke 
down completely, cried incessantly and was 
hard to quiet. 

Frequent visits from the mother only seemed 
to aggravate her state. She formed apparently 
violent attachments with one teacher then with 


another but changed her attachments with sur- 
prising quickness. She had to hold somebody's 
hand continually. Since this completely put 
one teacher out of commission for work with 
other children, a substitute was invented half 
in earnest and half in play or joke. A skipping 
rope was tied around the waist of her last 
favourite and Mary held on to it and followed 
her around. This unsatisfactory state of affairs 
lasted for two weeks. After that time her 
clinging became less insistent. She allowed 
even her favorite teacher to leave the room at 
times and she began definitely to enjoy her 
mother's visits without bursting into tears at 
every new parting. Now, six weeks after her 
arrival, she is definitely well and settled in 
the house. 

There was David, two years and six months 
old, a boy of charming, delicate appearance who 
in a state of fright would roll his eyes until 
only the whites were seen. His mother reported 
that he as well as his elder brother were fright- 
ened and nervous and inclined to have temper 
tantrums. The elder brother had for this rea- 
son been removed from several billets. He has 
now been admitted to the old house and sent 
to the country with our children. She herself 
was in a highly nervous state. David seemed 
quiet and comparatively happy in the first two 
days. He was inseparable from a toy dog, 


Peter, whom he had brought from home. 
Peter slept with him, ate with him, was in 
his arms even when he was bathed and dressed 
and David insisted that Peter should be taken 
care of as if he were another child in the 

When his mother visited him after two 
days, David had his first temper tantrum, a 
kind of hysterical attack, in which he alter- 
nately embraced his mother, clung to her, kiss- 
ed her, scolded her and hit out at her. He in- 
sistently demanded that she should kiss Peter 
on the mouth and hug him as if he were her 
baby. From then on for quite a while he re- 
acted with temper to every imaginary insult 
done to Peter. He would cry whenever an- 
other child would knock against the toy and 
would throw himself on the floor with despair 
whenever the dog inadvertently fell out of 
his arms. Peter is evidently a symbol for him- 
self and has to be treated as he himself wants 
to be treated. His mother was to make up in 
affection to the dog for the wrong she had done 
to David by sending him away from home. In 
David's case the difficulties caused by separ- 
ation from his mother are hard to disentangle 
from the neurotic troubles he had certainly al- 
ready shown in his life with her. 

An example of the opposite kind is Sheila, 
three years and four months old, who entered 


the Nursery with a very charming little broth- 
er of two years. Sheila is a rather plain little 
girl who has suffered from eczema since her 
babyhood. She has lost her father in an air- 
raid and seems definitely unloved by her moth- 
er, who greatly prefers the little brother, to the 
girl. Sheila who is used to look after her broth- 
er and generally seems to have led the life of 
a miniature charwoman continued this existence 
in the Nursery. She would scrub the floor, 
wipe the tables, feed the little children and re- 
port all matters of importance to the teachers. In 
the middle of all these activities she suddenly 
discovered the joy of being a loved child her- 
self. She developed a tender affection for the 
nursery superintendent and, in the middle of 
doing something else would suddenly run to 
her, throw herself into her arms and hug her. 
She definitely lost very little through separ- 
ation from her mother and everything she 
meets in the Nursery is a gain for her. 

September 1941 


Since the children we sent to the country 

remained within their own groups and were 

accompanied by the staff who had looked after 

them for several months already, evacuation 


for them was no shock of any kind. It took 
them only a very few hours to feel acquainted 
with the rooms of the new house. They arrived 
at lunch time and at tea, their second meal in 
the new surroundings, no child had the slight- 
est difficulty in finding his place at the table. 
The toddlers were delighted to have "real 
beds" again. No child seemed to miss or ques- 
tion the absence of a shelter. 

A few weeks later, a fond memory of the 
shelter in Wedderburn Road seemed to wake 
up in them. An empty bookcase in the nursery 
was suddenly declared to be a doll's shelter 
with all the individual dolls sleeping peace- 
fully in tiers above each other. The workers 
were asked by the children to crochet nets 
to safeguard the dolls against falling out of 
their beds and in this way to make the re- 
semblance to former shelter life complete. 

It took the children less than one day to get 
accustomed to outdoor life. They took posses- 
sion of the playgrounds immediately and al- 
ready on the day after arrival showed their 
familiarity with the lawns by standing on 
their heads on them and by using the space 
for all sorts of acrobatic stunts. 

Little more than a week after their arrival 
in the country the children were disturbed at 
night by a solitary stick of bombs which 
dropped several miles distant. Since the noise 


of bombing makes itself heard in open country 
even more than in a city, all these Londoners — 
grownups and children alike — in spite of hav- 
ing lived through the whole period of blitz, 
jumped out of their beds and had quite a 
fright. Many of the very little children were 
untouched by the event. The elder children 
and the staff met in the hall and the corridors 
and some of the children needed quite a lot 
of quieting. The children talked for quite a 
while about the bombing before falling asleep 
again. Some of them, like Pamela quickly re- 
gained their good humour and were ready to 
joke. One of them said that they should write 
to Jimmy in London that he could come to 
the country now, that there were bombs there 
also and that he could do fire watching. 

One little girl said the next morning in re- 
porting the event: "But it was a kind Ger- 
man, he did not drop the bomb on our house". 

It is rather curious to think that this is the 
idea of kindness with which the children of 
this period will grow up. 

Modes of Behaviour 

One of last month's newcomers in the coun- 
try house, Bertram, three years and nine months 
old is at varying times distressed shy, cross, 
affectionate and violent. He had never been 
separated from his mother for the first two 


and a half years of his life and then was taken 
from her very suddenly when she had to .go 
to a hospital in the last stages of tuberculous ill- 
ness. His father who knows that the mother's 
death is expected shortly and who is himself 
in the Merchant Navy brought Bertram and 
his elder sister to the Hampstead Nursery 
when on leave. 

Bertram, at the beginning, spoke very little 
and never made any references to his past. 
Instead of that he would get into short fits 
of temper and defend himself against all sorts 
of harmless routine happenings with the utmost 
vigour but without any consistency in his be- 
haviour. He would refuse for instance to be 
put to bed or to be washed or to have his throat 
inspected at one moment and then willingly 
allow to have it done the next He would sit 
endlessly at table apparently finishing his 
lunch. The most difficult time for him was the 
evening when he was supposed to go to bed. On 
such an occasion he had one of his outbursts of 
anger against the nursery superintendent and 
assured her that he did not like her. She said 
simply that she was very sorry because she did 
like him. 

He said: "I don't like you and I don't like 
nobody. I only like myself". Immediately 
afterwards he told her for the first time how 
his mother had gone away in a big car and 


had never come back again. 

The evening after this conversation he did 
not make his usual fuss but called her to his 
bed and said: "Stay with me. You are my 
mother now." 

He is now very closely attached to her, very 
affectionate and much easier to handle. .He 
has succeeded in expressing the most important 
event in his past life in words and conscious 
thought and this relieves him of the necessity 
of expressing his memory of it in abnormal 
behaviour. Day after day he now adds new 
pieces of information about his past. 

Whenever he is at cross purposes with one 
of the grown ups, he says threateningly: "I 
will put you to bed." Or "You will get no 

In this way he remembers and relates the 
educational measures taken in the little school 
where he lived with his sister before they came 
to us. This also explains why his behaviour 
was always most cranky when either eating or 
when supposedly sleeping. 

The outlet into conscious thought and speech 
with consequent relief in their behaviour is 
unluckily denied to some of our children who 
would be most in need of it. 

We have quite a number of war orphans 
in our groups. Among them are two families — 
four children in one, two in the other — where 


the children have not been informed about 
their fathers' death. Both men were killed in 
air raids, the body of one has not even been 

Though both mothers are competent women 
who immediately faced the task of going out 
to work to support their families, they are too 
much hit themselves to be able to face their 
children knowing and possibly talking about 
their fathers' death. They built up a legend of 
the father being "in the north of England", 
being "ill in hospital" and they force the 
children to believe in it. There is not the 
slightest doubt that all these six children — ex- 
cept of course the baby — must know all about 
their fathers' death. They have seen their 
mothers cry and have lived weeks or even 
months in close contact with mourning before 
they came to us. The mothers even take them 
to church at the anniversary of their father's 
death, to visit neighbours who condole with 
them; they even had to accompany the mother 
to the officials to debate the question of pen- 
sions, guardianship and proving of death. In 
spite of their emotional life being completely 
under the impression of their deprivation, they 
are denied the relief given by by talking about 
the matter. 

One of these children, five years old, the 
other day broke out in the presence of the 


mother into the triumphant statement. "I know 
all about my father. He has been killed and 
he will never come back". 

The mother answered with a fit of anger, 
closely questioning the child who had told her 
"such a lie". 

The child only repeated: "You have told 
me yourself through your behaviour". But in 
the end the mother won. 

She made the child repeat: "The father is 
in Scotland and will certainly return". 

The little girl repeated the words after her 
with a sullen expression and had to promise 
never to say or think it otherwise. The children 
of this family show the effects of this discrep- 
ancy between the truth they know and feel and 
the legend they are forced to adopt in wild and 
unruly behaviour and general contempt for the 
grown up world. 

The other little girl, Sheila, the little char- 
women of three and a half years, reacts to 
every outing with her mother, especially when 
it takes her back to the father's world with 
a new excess of washing, scrubbing and look- 
ing after the other children, far beyond her 

There is no doubt that all these children can 
be helped by an open discussion of their mis- 
fortune. But at the moment it cannot be done 
against the mothers' wishes and it will take 


some patient and careful work to influence the 
mothers to adopt this point of view. 

October — November 1941 

From rash and inconsiderate actions of some 
mothers, it would be very wrong to generalise 
and suppose that these untaught mothers haven't 
understanding of their children's needs or are 
not appreciative also of the more subtle and 
complicated methods of dealing with their 
children. We find that the mother's own diag- 
nosis of the child's state is very often correct. 
Iris's mother for instance suggested from the 
beginning that the child's attacks of nervous 
coughing might have something to do with her 
father's incessant coughing in the year before 
his death. David's mother always knew that 
his bed wetting and general state of restlessness 
were due to her own attacks of anxiety during 
air raids. Patrick's mother who showed great 
concern and understanding about his normal 
state whenever he was separated from her, ask- 
ed us later to take her elder girl who had de- 
veloped an overly timid and frightened manner 
in her billet, where she was excellently well 
cared for in all material ways. She said it 
could not be good for a child to lose all con- 


fidence in her own actions in that way. She 
had noticed that whatever the girl did, she 
would stop afterwards and wonder whether she 
had done right. 

Several mothers, who were rather doubtful 
of our methods in the beginning, admitted after 
a while that our ways of handling the children 
seemed more successful than theirs. 

Little David's mother began to see the part 
she used to play in his temper tantrums and 
said : "It is lovely now to put him to bed with- 
out excitements". 

Mary's mother on the other hand still in- 
sists that her spankings are more sensible than 
our indulgence when Mary is upset. 

All mothers relate how much they mind 
when they see their children continually 
restricted in their activities in billets or in in- 
stitutions. They are upset over the fact that in 
some places children are not allowed to handle 
freely the presents which the parents bring to 

Bertram's and Rosemary's father, for in- 
stance, reported as one of the instances which 
completely turned him against their former 
Nursery, that a doll which he had given to his 
little daughter on one visit was still in the 
same perfect condition when he returned for 
a next visit after several months at sea. This, 
he said, could only mean that the toy had been 


withheld from the child and that the people 
in charge did not understand what a toy of 
this kind could mean in comforting a child 
separated from both parents. The child's 
mother is in the hospital with Tb. 

Insight of this kind, in the beginning came 
as a surprise to us. We had rather expected the 
parents to wish that their presents would be 
respected and preserved. 

Understanding of this type is shown with 
special clearness in a letter received last week 
from John's mother. John, three years old, was 
admitted in September to the country house. 
As a bed-wetter he had been handed on from 
one billet to another — five or six changes in 
all — and no further place could be found for 
him. He is a delicate little boy of graceful, 
charming appearance, friendly but non-com- 
mittal, rather frightened, and lost and without 
emotional contact with anybody. All we could 
learn about him was that his father was a 
private in the army and that his mother was in 
a sanitarium with Tb. When an aunt from 
London visited him after a short time, we ask- 
ed for particulars of his past history. She only 
told us that she was the mother's sister, that 
she belonged to a family of 13 and that she 
knew almost nothing about the child. But she 
would write and ask the mother to let us 
know as much as possible of the experiences 


the child had had all by himself during the 
mother's illness. 

We quote the following from the mother's 

"... John hasn't had any complaints, only mea- 
sles which he had last December, they lasted a 
week, but nothing else whatever, he has always 
eaten well and slept well, when John was 8 
months old his daddy was called up for the Army, 
up till he was two years of age there was just John 
and I on our own so of course he had his freedom, 
was allowed to play in the garden, etc and was a 
happy, carefree little boy, but last year we decided 
to go to Yorkshire to his daddy for a while, I was 
only there quite a short time when I had an haemor- 
raghe, of course it came quite a shock to me when 
I learned what was wrong as I had felt so well, 
I never had the slightest suspicion of it or I should 
not have gone all those miles from home to leave my 
baby at the mercy of strangers, however, I went into 
the Sanatorium in December 1940 and the woman 
who we were staying with said she would take care 
of John during the time she had him his daddy used 
to go to see him and he said it got on his nerves 
to hear her keep saying to the child, "Don't do 
this and don't do that" and as time wore on he 
noticed John was being cowled down and when his 
daddy took him sweets he would give them to this 
lady and sit there and wait for her to give him one, 
he was never allowed to play out in the garden and 
when his father went on Sunday mornings to take 
him out she always made the excuse that he was not 
bathed, and then on evenings she would put him 
to bed just before his dad arrived, this went on for 6 

months thi9 was the period I was in the Sanatorium. 
I was up all day and had been for quite a while 
and I was feeling very well so I decided to come 
back to London and let some one in m yown family 
take care of John, and I would finish my treat- 
ment in a Sanatorium down here, but I was dis- 
appointed when I got home I found my sisters had 
all got government jobs and could not leave them, so 
I said unless I found somebody suitable I would 
never leave him again and it was during this time I 
had him that I noticed he was not the happy 
carefree little boy that I had left, he had altered 
completely, seemed to be frightened of every little 
thing he did, he would say "Can I do this, can I 
do that", he would never do anything of his own 
free will for fear it was wrong, I would say "yes" 
to everything he wanted just to get him back 
to his old ways, and it made me realise how very 
much he must have been kept down ... I then 
got the chance to come to this Sanatorium and 
as we know some one in the country we thought 
it would be a good idea to ask her if she would 
like to have John, thinking he would have a good 
home and the freedom of the fields to play in, she 
seemed to jump at the idea of having him and she 
asked me to pay her 15/ — a week, but I was so 
pleased to think that she was going to have him that 
I asked her to accept 18 — as the cost of living was 
so dear and would not be much money in for her 
labour, this she accepted, so I came away to settle 
down and get better, thinking that little John was 
now settled and I would not have the same worry 
as I had before of him being tied down and watched 
about, but she was very particular, in the home, and 
I guessed that she turned out to be the same as the 

other one, however, she wrote me a letter after a 
month and told me what a good little soul John was 
and what clean ways he had, but at the same time 
referring to not wanting him any longer. I never 
took no notice and a fortnight after I got a letter 
from her saying she had turned him over to a nursery 
with the feeble excuse that he wetted the bed, but 
now when I sit and think of the different places he 
has been to and the way he has been treated, Mrs. 
B . . . has done me a good turn in the long run by 
getting John into your nursery, now he can play 
with other children and do just as he pleases with- 
out somebody continually saying "Don't do this and 
that", so I hope he will soon get back to his jolly 
carefree ways as I am sure he will do by this de- 
scription my sister gave me of the nursery. Well 
Matron, I hope I have not bored you stiff with this 
long letter, but I have described to you as best 
I can as to where John has been since my illness ..." 

Training Scheme 

We have at the moment about twenty young 
girls of the age between sixteen and twenty-one 
years working for us in our houses. Apart 
from the very youngest they have all had some 
training as nurses, baby nurses, or nursery school 
teachers, partly on the continent and partly in 
England. To give a sounder foundation of 
some common knowledge to our work with the 
children, we have now decided to start out on 
a purely private and unofficial training scheme 


of our own. This training scheme is strictly 
limited in several directions: 

A Wc can give no certificate at the end apart from a 
private letter of recommendation in cases where the 
young worker has been found satisfactory. 

B We spend no money on our training scheme just 
as we demand no fees for our children. 

C We are not able to teach everything that the curri- 
culum of a children's nurse or nursery school tea- 
cher should include. We simply utilise whatever 
knowledge and experience we find among the elder 
members of the staff to teach the younger ones. 
Our task is very much facilitated by the fact that 
nearly all our heads of departments have in their 
former professional life taught either at a Uni- 
versity, a training college or at welfare institutions. 

D The hours used for theoretical instruction were for- 
merly rest hours for the staff which the girls were 
glad to give up for the purpose of learning. The 
practical instructions form part of the regular work- 
ing day. Each girl is supposed to spend a fixed time 
(at least 3 months) in each department (babies, 
junior toddlers, nursery, sickroom. -Milk kitchen, 
shelter duty, kitchen and household come in for 
slightly shorter periods of duty. — The whole train- 
ing is supposed to last for the duration of the war. 


The following is the time table of this train- 
ing scheme which already has begun to func- 
tion during November. 



A course of 30 lectures, to be held on Mondays, 2.15- 
3.15 P.M. 

A Anatomy 

B First Aid 

C Nutrition 

D Hygiene 

E Children's diseases 


A course of 16 lectures to be held on Wednesdays, 
2.15-3.15 P.M. 

A Development of the senses 

B Intellectual development 

C First toys 

D An idea of testing 

A An introductory course 
B Reading seminar 


A course of 4 lectures to be given on Fridays, 2.15- 
3.15 P.M. 

A Budget 
B Finance 

C The building up on an institution 



Two courses of two-hour periods to alternate on 
Fridays after Course 4 at 2 P.M. 

A Diet 

B Practical Cooking (at Wedderburn Road) 

C Practical Sewing 


Practical demonstrations for the trainees of the re- 
spective departments. 

A Baby gymnastics. Mondays and Thursdays, 

4.30-5 P.M. 
B Gymnastics with the Senior Toddlers, Tues- 
days and Saturdays 11 A.M. 
C Gymnastics with the Junior Toddlers, Thurs- 
days 11 A.M. 

December 1941 


The Christmas holidays created special op- 
portunities to observe certain facts about the 
parent-child relationship. Apart from short 
Sundays and occasional hours during the week 
there is very little chance for the parents of 
the Babies' Home to feel that the children 
really are still their own. Many of them had 
therefore planned a long time beforehand to 
take their children "home" at least for one 
whole day, some of them for several days at 


Christmas. In many cases these hopes were dis- 
appointed through the illness of the children, 
in others the re-union was not as happy as the 
parents had expected. 

Baby James's parents, for instance, had begun 
planning three months ago to take him home 
to their room for Christmas day. The father's 
army leave and the mother's free day from fac- 
tory work coincided, which was a rare occasion. 
They had prepared for him a temporary crib 
and in all ways had set the stage for one whole 
day of family life. When they came to fetch 
him, they had to be told that he had run a high 
temperature the day before and though the 
fever was down now, it would be highly dan- 
gerous to take him out of his surroundings, to 
interrupt his routine and to subject him to 
a day's festivities. The father got very angry 
about it, insisted that no baby could be harm- 
ed by being taken home in a pram and that 
after all a cold was just a cold. The mother 
just stood by the crib and cried with disap- 

But when the father, a very young boy sol- 
dier, finally stormed out of the house to get 
a drink, she settled down quite happily and 
said: "Men never understand such things," 
and spent the whole day in the nursery sitting 
with her baby. 

The toddlers on the other hand went on ex- 

tensive Christmas leave. Brenda, seventeen 
months old, was carried home in triumph in 
a new pink coat and leggings to her Irish 
mother and Indian father, both munition work- 
ers in the East end. Though she is the brightest 
child and has the sunniest disposition in the 
nursery she did not behave very graciously at 
home. She would not eat and this disturbed the 
mother who had often seen her eat enormous 
quantities at our place. She even took her to 
the doctor of the nearest Welfare Clinic to find 
out what was the matter. 

But the doctor said with great insight: 
"Nothing is the matter. She is only fretting 
for her nurses and the other children." 

The mother, who is a specially kind hearted 
and good natured woman said when she brought 
her back: "I understand Brenda. It is so 
dull for her at home. There is nothing she 
can do." 

Other mothers reacted to the same ex- 
perience with less friendliness. When Brian, 
twenty-three months old, went home he just 
lay down on the floor quietly, was not interest- 
ed and would not play with anything. His 
mother was greatly worried but when she 
brought him back to the nursery he rushed 
around and was as lively as ever. 

She looked at him and said: "He just 
cheated us." 


Michael, two years and one month old, who 
is the greatest eater in the toddler's room would 
not take any food at home. 

Norman's mother reported that she had to 
get up at four A.M. to make toast for him be- 
cause he said continuously and monotonously: 
"I want my toast, I want my toast, I want my 


Kenneth, three years old, was quite content 
with his mother for one day. He got restless 
the next morning, seemed more and more dis- 
turbed in the course of the day and then to- 
wards evening said very decidedly: "And now 
I want to go home again to my Nelsa (Use, the 
nursery superintendent) and my nice bath". 

It is naturally a bitter experience for the 
mothers, that after half a year's absence, these 
small children shift their affections and their 
loyalties, call the nursery their home and be- 
have as strangers or as guests with their own 

We try to help this situation to the best of 
our ability by putting no restrictions on the 
visits of the parents. Still, nothing can alter the 
fact that children of this age can only feel fully 
at home in one place and will turn their affec- 
tion to the people who handle them day by day. 
It is easier for the mother to maintain her re- 
lationship to the child unbroken than it is for 
the child to do the same. But just because the 


mother's relationship remains more or less un- 
altered and what is half a lifetime to 
the baby is only half a year to 
her, the mothers cannot experience this situa- 
tion without bitterness. They naturally think 
that it is the material comforts which the nur- 
sery has to offer, the choice of toys, the good 
food, the "nice bath", which has stolen the 
affection of the children from them. In reality, 
it is the extreme material and emotional depen- 
dency of the small child which forces it to 
form such strong ties with his immediate sur- 
roundings. For this very reason we may expect 
many difficult situations to arise at the end of 
the war when all these children are supposed 
to return home again. 

The state of affairs with the bigger children 
in the Country House is quite different. Now 
that the quarantine has made the visits of par- 
ents impossible we have the opportunity of see- 
ing the children under conditions which more 
closely resemble those of other children in 
evacuation. There are still some differences of 
course. It is astonishing that even the smaller 
children understand the reason why the parents 
have stopped coming. We encourage letters 
from both sides, small parcels are sent and news 
is taken back and forth when the doctor makes 
her regular visits. We find that in this distance 
the relationship to the absent parents is greatly 


idealised. Their letters are carried around and 
have to be read to the children innumerable 
times. Children who do not receive letters often 
get sulky and depressed. 

It is interesting to note that the affection for 
the parents is transferred in many cases to ma- 
terial objects which have come as presents from 
the parents. 

Hetty, two years and ten months old, had re- 
ceived a green knitted dress from her mother 
and went on wearing it with the greatest de- 
light. When the dress was dirty and supposed 
to go to the laundry, she was upset and dis- 
tressed and refused to be comforted. 

In the same manner, a little toddler in Neth- 
erhall Gardens had to go to bed in high black 
shoes which his mother had brought him that 
day as a present. 

Toys enjoy an entirely different valuation ac- 
cording to whether they are given by the nur- 
sery or by the parents. Rosemary, five years old, 
possesses a collection of tiny toys from her 
mother which she carries around, shows to 
everybody and calls "my very own". 

Dolls given by a parent are respected by 
everybody as private property; dolls given by 
the nursery even to individual children are free- 
ly shared with everybody. Only sweets, even 
when sent by the parents, are shared out im- 
mediately as a matter of pride and principle. 


Ronny, seven years old, who takes very little 
care of her clothes otherwise, looks at a little 
skirt made for her by her mother and says: "I 
won't wear it to school. Only for best." 

This transference of affection from the par- 
ents to their presents can sometimes go quite 
beyond the limits of normal reactions. Bertie, 
four years old, for instance who has never over- 
come the shock of separation from his mother, 
a bad case of hospitalized Tb. and from his 
father who is a sailor on the ocean, has devel- 
oped a craze for parcels, since parcels are the 
one connecting link between him and his absent 
mother. He does not care about the contents; 
he just demands that all his old toys be wrapped 
up as parcels and given to him to open. As soon 
as he has opened them he wants them wrapped 
up again. His continual and never satisfied wish 
to return to his mother cannot express itself in 
words. It has disappeared from consciousness 
and instead expresses itself in this compulsive 
wish to open parcels. 

January — March 1942 

We have recently adopted a new arrange- 
ment of work with our nursery children in 
Netherhall Gardens which influences their life 


in a decisive way. Since these children receive 
frequent visits from their own mothers, we had 
expected that they would not be searching for 
real mother substitutes and could be satisfied 
with more impersonal and diffuse attachments 
to the various nursery workers dealing with 
their group. We had not assigned special chil- 
dren to special workers nor divided the group 
for other purposes than the practical ones of 
play, graded according to age. All the children 
knew all the workers in their group and were 
handled by them indiscriminately for the pur- 
poses of bathing, dressing, going for walks etc. 
There were two factors which decided us to 
change this arrangement. The one was that cer- 
tain children suddenly showed strong prefer- 
ence for certain workers, followed them about, 
did not want to be separated from them and 
demanded attention of a very personal nature. 
Since the workers felt that no favoritism 
should be shown, this led to all sorts of disap- 
pointments and denials for the children. The 
second factor was that certain steps in develop- 
ment were slow in coming; that in spite of all 
opportunities provided, certain children were 
reluctant to grow out of their baby habits and 
others took too long in overcoming reverses in 
their development due to separation from home. 
We attributed these difficulties to the lack of 
a stable mother-relationship. 


The step taken was the subdivision of the 
large nursery group into six small "family 
groups", of about four children. In assign- 
ing the children to their new substitute mothers, 
we followed the signs of preference shown on 
the one hand by the children, and on the other 
hand by the young workers. Each "mother" 
now has more or less complete charge of her 
family. She alone bathes and dresses her group, 
is responsible for their clothes and offers them 
protection against all the current mishaps of 
nursery life. There is no necessity any longer 
to refuse a child special attention of a mother- 
ly kind. 

The result of this arrangement was astonish- 
ing in its force and immediacy. The need for 
individual attachment for the feelings which 
had been lying dormant, came out in a rush. 
In the course of one week all six families were 
completely and firmly established. But the re- 
actions in the beginning were far from being 
exclusively happy ones. Since all these children 
had already undergone a painful separation 
from their own mother, their mother-relation- 
ship is naturally burdened with the effects of 
this experience. To have a mother means, to 
them equally, the possibility of losing a mother; 
the love for the mother being thus closely ac- 
companied by the hate and resentment pro- 
duced by her supposed desertion. Consequently, 


the violent attachment to the mother substitutes 
of their own choice was anything but peaceful 
for the children. They clung to them full of 
possessiveness and anxiety when they were pres- 
ent, anxiously watched every one of their move- 
ments towards the door of the nursery and 
would burst into tears whenever they were left 
by them for a few minutes. 

Jealousy developed alongside with the 
mother-attachment. There were two types of 
jealousy to be seen; one directed against the 
children of the same family group who actu- 
ally shared the attention of the mother substi- 
tute; or when the children succeeded in accept- 
ing these brothers and sisters who were forced 
on them, they directed the full impact of their 
jealousy against the children outside their fam- 
ily group and would not allow their worker to 
have any dealings with them. For a while we 
really thought that our grand innovation had 
been a great mistake. The formerly peaceful 
nursery reverberated with the weeping of chil- 
dren whose "mother" had left the room, for 
instance to get something from the next room, 
and whose absence was mourned as if she 
would never return. Fights among the children 
multiplied in frequency and intensity. 

Luckily, this state of affairs did not last long- 
er than two to three weeks. With the realisation 
that their new mother substitute really belonged 


to them, reappeared as often as she disappeared 
and had no intention to desert them altogether, 
the state of frenzy subsided and gave way to a 
quieter, more stable and comforting attach- 
ment. At the same time, the children began 
to develop in leaps and bounds. The most grati- 
fying effect was that several children who had 
seemed hopeless as far as the training for clean- 
liness was concerned, suddenly started to use 
the pot regularly and effectively. 

Bathing times in the evening have now be- 
come times of special intimacy when each child 
is certain of the full and undivided attention of 
its favourite adult. This again, has had a re- 
markable effect on the development of speech. 
All the children in the group have greatly en- 
larged their vocabulary. And several children 
who were rather backward in their speech de- 
velopment due to nursery life, have now, under 
the influence of this new stimulus made up for 
these arrears. 

There is every hope at the moment that the 
speech of all the children will reach the level 
of development which it would have attained 
under the conditions of home and family life. 

Real families, as for instance the three Fitz- 
gibbon and the two Miles children, were of 
course left together in our family groups. 

There is the possibility that these newly 
formed attachments might have consequences 


for the relationship of the children to their 
visiting real mothers. Curiously enough no signs 
of such changes have so far appeared on the 

The occurrences in this group are at the same 
time a clear demonstration of the known fact 
that children transfer their early relationship to 
their families onto all the people who later 
play an important part in their lives. This 
transference of feeling is responsible, on the one 
hand for the stormy and conflicting nature of 
the attachment of the child to the nursery 
worker, for the mixture of love and hate, pos- 
sessiveness and jealousy. It explains, on the 
other hand, why the consequences of such at- 
tachments are so far reaching where education 
and development is concerned. With the full 
return to the type of attachment which had 
been interrupted by the separation from the 
family, the child resumes his steady progress 
towards the formation of a normal personality. 
He overcomes his childish habits and there un- 
folds the functions which belong to that par- 
ticular stage of his individual development. 


April— July 1942 

Our attempts to start "artificial families" in 
our nursery, i.e. to assign three or four children 
only to one young worker as their special 
"mother" interested some of our readers and 
led to further discussion of the subject. This 
again was a welcome opportunity to review 
once more our observations about the attitude 
of the real mother towards the child which is 
separated from her and the reactions of the 
child to the expressed or unexpressed emotions 
of the mother. 

In trying to trace the numerous failures of 
the billeting system to their sources, a great 
deal of attention has been paid to the attitude 
of the foster mothers, and to the difficulties of 
the children which often seemed to make the 
task of foster mothers an impossible one. Less 
has been said about the inner attitude of the 
mothers themselves. But it remains a fact that 
children are taken out of billets and nurseries 
and brought back to danger areas even where 
billets and nurseries are satisfactory and when 
the children themselves are perfectly easy to 
handle. They are taken home in a great num- 
ber of cases because the mother cannot cope 
with the conflict within her own feelings. Her 


conscious wishes for the safety of the child con- 
trast with other, only dimly perceived or wholly 
unconscious feelings, which lie at the basis of 
the mother-child relationship. 

Ambivalent Attitude of Moth- 
ers towards Separation from 
their young Children 

We generally over-estimate the strength of 
the mother's sensible wish to have the child re- 
moved from danger. Even in the middle of air 
raids a mother may show a double reaction in 
this respect. She wishes to have her child well 
out of danger, but at the same time to keep it 
near her, where she can personally care for it, 
watch over it and can know just where it is at 
the moment. She feels no one could protect her 
child as she can and therefore feels reassured 
by its presence. Reason and emotion definitely 
work against each other at these times. This 
may explain some of the continuous "to and 
fro" of evacuation. While one wish of the 
mother is active in sending the child to the 
country, another,, purely emotional one, is the 
agent to bring it back again to her side. 

Expression of the same Am- 
bivalence on Visiting the Child 

When the mother visits the child she will 
come with her emotions of longing, augmented 


by the doubt and worry whether she has done 
the right thing for the child. It would gratify 
her in one way to find that the child is worse 
off away from her than with her and therefore 
she will be very ready to find fault and will 
examine the child for signs of neglect and ill- 
treatment and will observe the nurses or foster 
mother with critical eyes. On the other hand 
she, of course, wants to find her child well and 
content. A sensitive child, besides having its 
own emotional reactions will feel this tenseness 
and conflict in the mother. It will be aware of 
her critical attitude and feel torn between its 
allegiance to her and the incipient liking for 
his new surroundings. 

These emotions which exist as undercur- 
rents during the whole length of the visit then 
create violent disturbances when the time for 
leave-taking arrives. This is generally a most 
painful experience for the mother as well as 
for the child. The child will cling to the 
mother, scream and show its misery in a noisy 
manner. The mother would certainly not want 
her child to let her leave gladly but she can- 
not stand these upsetting scenes. She reacts to 
them, by trying, on her next visit either to fool 
the child by pretending that she is not leaving 
when she really intends to do so or by saying 
goodbye to the child over and over again. After 
a mother has experienced such scenes repeated- 


ly she will acquire a new conflict: she feels that 
her visits only add to the unhappiness of the 
child and she is now torn between the desire to 
stay away so as to spare the child further un- 
happiness and the desire to reassure herself by 
coming to visit the child again as soon as 

The situation is, naturally, even worse for the 
mother if the child reacts to her coming and 
going with apparent indifference. She is unable 
to understand such unfaithfulness, she will be 
hurt, jealous, unhappy and probably will 
lengthen the intervals between her visits. She 
suspects the people who take care of the child 
of "turning it against her". Mothers in this state 
will at one moment be cross, at the next over- 
affectionate with their children. If not helped 
over this difficult moment, the most likely way 
out for them will be to take the child home 

In the Hampstead Nursery we avoid the 
worst of these complications by keeping open 
house for the mothers. They are reassured by 
the feeling that they have easy access to their 
children, that their visits are no disturbance to 
the routine of the household, that they can take 
their children out for walks and home for 
nights whenever they are free. Nothing which 
goes on in the nursery is hidden from their 
eyes so that their worst suspicions are allayed. 


But even with the best intentions these condi- 
tions cannot be always kept up. We went 
through a difficult time when the country house 
was in quarantine for scarlet fever and had to 
be closed to visitors for three months. Mothers 
who, under ordinary visiting conditions, felt 
very placid about their children's stay with us, 
would suddenly call up by telephone in an 
excited manner, complain that they had not re- 
ceived an answer to some imaginary letter of 
theirs which had never reached us, that they 
"worried day and night" about their child, that 
they "did not even hear whether the child was 
alive or dead", etc. Several mothers took their 
children home on visits after the lifting of the 
quarantine to make up for lost contact. But 
these visits did not prove too satisfactory. Some 
mothers complained that the children did not 
seem the same to them, one of our stoutest girls 
was considered too thin by the mother. 

Little Sandra, three years old, refused to look 
at her father whenever he tried to approach 
her, whereupon he telephoned us in an excited 
manner and declared: "I do not like the goings- 
on in that country house". 

But fortunately Sandra cried at the parents' 

next visit when the moment of parting arrived. 

That, completely helped the situation and 

restored her father's confidence in us. 

A great many of these reactions of the par- 


ents is fully conscious. The mothers specially 
are well aware of their double feelings. They 
would like to have their children stay with us 
in safety and under favourable conditions and 
yet they would also like to have them home 
again. They are also aware that it is the chang- 
ed behaviour of the child which upsets them 
and strengthens the wish to have it return 
home. What they do not realise, however, is 
that the criticisms on which they pretend to 
base their decisions are unreal or displaced, 
and that the child's reactions are often in- 
creased by the conflict in the mother's mind. 

In the long run even these irrational factors 
in the parents are open to influence. The pride 
in the development of the child, its concrete 
gains in health and knowledge, the loss of bad 
habits are very real factors in deciding the out- 
come of the conflict. 

Undisturbed Positive Reac- 
tions of Mothers to their Babies, 
even after Separation 

In Netherhall Gardens, there is good oppor- 
tunity to observe the various attitudes of visit- 
ing mothers to their small babies. Here the 
mothers know when they leave their babies that 
even with frequent visits they cannot expect 
recognition from them before they are a few 
months old. Some mothers visit daily, some 


weekly and only a few less often. There are 
certain very natural, very possessive mothers 
who behave in much the same way on their 
visits. They enter the room and make straight 
for the cot where their baby is lying. They im- 
mediately pick it up and handle it in the most 
confident manner. 

One mother of twins for instance placed the 
children with us when they were four months 
old. They have now been with us for a period 
of nine months and during that time she has 
never failed to visit them daily in her off hours 
from work. At times our nurses were shocked 
at her apparent rough treatment of them. 
They worried, as time went on, why she did 
not learn something from their much quieter 
handling of babies. This mother seizes one 
twin after the other out of her cot, hugs it, 
holds it firmly in her hands and squeezes it. 
Both children react to this rough handling 
with evident pleasure. Now that they are older 
she even slaps them to the horror of the nurses. 
But the twins show more contact with the visi- 
ing mother than with the nurses who are con- 
stantly with them. This is shown very clearly 
at their feeding time. Whenever a nurse feeds 
one of the twins, the other waits more or less 
patiently in its bed. But when the mother is 
feeding, the twin who is kept waiting screams 

and makes impatient noises all the time to call 


the mother's attention. There is no doubt about 
its jealousy. The rough treatment given by the 
mother is rightly interpreted by the children 
as an expression of her possessive love. 

A similar situation can be observed in an- 
other baby who entered the nursery at the age 
of six and a half months. He had been in un- 
satisfactory billets for four months, was taken 
home by the mother and came to us after three 
weeks of home life. The mother is a huge wo- 
man, extremely pleasant, a most motherly type 
with an immense lap. The baby felt ill after its 
arrival and the mother could not visit for the 
entire first week because her husband at home 
had fallen ill as well. When she came at last 
and found him with a bad cold she was wor- 
ried, she picked him up, cuddled him, crooned 
over him, rocked him, rather jerked him back 
and forth, held him very close and finally 
soothed him to sleep. She put all the emotions 
which she had withheld from him during this 
week of separation into this short space of 
time. There is no doubt about it that some of 
her feelings imparted themselves to him. When 
she came a fortnight later he seemed very shy 
with her, felt strange and did not recognise her 
until she held him again tight in her arms and 
crooned and rocked him as she had done be- 
fore. He then cuddled down and was a real 
picture of contentment 


The same feelings can also be expressed in a 
completely different manner. We have a Free 
French baby, who entered the nursery at the 
age of ten weeks. Her parents visit regularly 
once a week and nearly always together. They 
lean over the child's cot, handle her delicately 
and adoringly, somehow afraid to touch her 
except in the most gentle manner. Now, that 
the baby is ten months old, her mother has a 
certain way of sitting on a chair with the baby 
on her lap facing the father who often feeds 
her in that position. Also this worshipping at- 
titude of the parents surely makes some lasting 
impression on the child. 

Anyway this possessive handling as well as 
the adoring one certainly goes far in outweigh- 
ing the comparatively unemotional, even and 
gentle treatment which the children receive 
from the nurses who take care of them. 

Ambivalence towards Babies 
All baby-mothers mentioned so far are very 
motherly types, possessive, affectionate, sure of 
themselves and in no way torn by conflicting 
emotions in regard to their babies. But there 
are other mothers who, in contrast to them show 
the well known signs of double feelings towards 
their children. 

A good example of this type is Sandy's mother 
who brought the baby to us when she was 


twelve days old. At first she visited regularly 
every week, then she began to come less often. 
When the child was four months she did not ap- 
pear for several weeks and when she came 
again she failed to recognise her baby. Sandra 
had lost a lot of her black hair in the meantime. 
She would only believe that the child was 
really hers after inspecting all the other children 
in their cots. After this visit she again stayed 
away for several weeks. When she visited next 
she went straight to the cot, probably in order to 
prove to herself and to us that she knew her 
baby. She picked Sandra up, hugged and kissed 
her but Sandra did not like it and shrieked with 
terror. It took hours to quiet her again. While 
the nurse was holding her and trying to calm 
her, the mother paced up and down the room 
looking tense and worried. Every time she ap- 
proached, the baby started shrieking again. It 
was quite evident to us that the child reacted to 
the mother's violent emotion. The next time 
the mother came, after barely a week, she ap- 
proached Sandra's cot very quietly; she did not 
try to kiss her or to pick her up but played with 
her as she lay there and Sandra seemed quite 

The mother's feelings on those visits are not 
difficult to discern. Sandra is an unwanted and 
illegitimate baby, the mother's interest in her is 
uncertain and unreliable in the highest degree. 


Her unconscious wish against the baby betrays 
itself in the failure to recognise the child. The 
child felt this negative emotion and reacted with 
terror. On the other hand there is also con- 
scious love and affection which impel the 
mother to visit her and determine her reactions 
to a certain degree. 

Purely Negative Reactions to- 
wards the Baby 

The situation is much less involved where 
the mother only has the straight and undis- 
turbed wish to get rid of her child. An ex- 
ample of this was Johnny whose mother deliv- 
ered him to us at the age of three weeks. We 
had no vacancy at the time but accepted him 
since it was evident that the mother would 
otherwise leave him on the next doorstep. She 
weaned him immediately and left the same day 
against all urging to stay at least a few days. 
She visited a few times and then stopped. The 
next news came from an Adoption Society with 
whom the mother had made arrangements al- 
ready before his birth. In this case it seemed 
quite impossible to detect any conscious or un- 
conscious leanings in the mother towards the 



Observations of this kind may be useful 
in explaining some of the puzzling behaviour 
of mothers during the evacuation of their chil- 
dren. With the recognition of unconscious 
wishes and their conflict with conscious atti- 
tudes ''puzzling behaviour" usually can be ex- 
plained as an unsuccessful attempt to combine 
an expression of both sides in one action or to 
satisfy the two attitudes, one after the other, in 
two sets of actions. 

Under the conditions of normal and legiti- 
mate family life the only feelings towards the 
child of which the mother is conscious are 
positive feelings of pride of possession, love 
and affection. It is true that every mother 
also has emotions of another nature. The baby 
is also a burden to her, sometimes a disturbance 
in the relationship to the father, sometimes felt 
as a threat to her own body, sometimes a dis- 
turbance in enjoying herself etc. But under 
favorable conditions feelings of this kind are 
usually barred from consciousness. Wherever 
they appear on the surface as impatience or ex- 
asperation with the child, outside reasons are 
found to explain their existence. In this way 
we get an interplay in the mother between con- 
scious positive feeling and repressed negative 
feelings towards the child. The unconscious 
feelings may remain dormant under the con- 


ditions of normal family life. When mother 
and child are forcibly separated, as for instance 
for the purpose of evacuation, the mother may 
suddenly feel the separation as a fulfillment 
of her unconscious desire to get rid of her 
child. In that case she will be unable to stand 
the situation. She will disregard all reasons 
against it, will use the slightest pretexts to ex- 
plain her decision to herself and will enforce 
re-union with the child so as to be re-assured 
about her own love for it. 

Under unfavorable social and economic 
conditions and with unwanted illegitimate chil- 
dren the emotional situation of the mother is 
completely reversed. Her entire conscious 
mind is filled with the desire not to have the 
baby before it is born or to get rid of the 
child after its appearance. Instinctive mother- 
ly feelings towards the child cannot fail to be 
present as well, but they are felt as a threat 
to the mother's own existence and therefore 
banned from consciousness. Here the conscious 
wish of the mother and the necessities of evac- 
uation coincide. 

Mothers of this kind present no difficulty in 
the beginning of evacuation. Their attitude 
only becomes a danger when they fail to visit. 
completely lose touch with the nursery or billet 
where their children have been placed and will 
certainly be untraceable when their children 


are supposed to return home at the end of the 

But also with mothers of this type the un- 
conscious attitude, in their case the positive 
one, has to be reckoned with and can be 
brought into play by change of circumstances. 
When the mother's hostility has been expressed 
in the initial separation from the child, when 
further, the economic threat which the child 
means to her has been removed through the 
outside help represented by the billet or 
nursery, the motherly feelings can in their turn 
rise to consciousness. Since under the new con- 
ditions they meet no condemnation from the 
conscious personality of the mother, it is some- 
times possible against all expectations to estab- 
lish good relations between these mothers and 
their children just under the conditions of 
nursery life. 

August — December 1942 


There were only two daylight alarms and 
one night alarm in London during the last 
month. Neither the day nor the night routine 
were much disturbed by them. In obedience to 
the warnings issued by the government we keep 


up all precautions, which means that all chil- 
dren continue to sleep in the shelter dormitory 
with exception of those who are kept upstairs 
because of whooping cough. 

The Country House had one night full of ex- 
citement. A German aeroplane dropped bombs 
in the neighborhood and was chased by British 
fighters. There were flares and guns and 
everybody listened to the fight. All the 
younger children slept through the noise but 
most of the older ones were awake and anxious 
and needed soothing. 

Children's Reactions to Bombs 

The following stories record some recent 
sayings of our children concerning the subject 
of war. 

After three years of war the idea of fight- 
ing, killing, bombing etc. had ceased to be 
surprising or extraordinary. The existence of 
these activities is now accepted by the children 
as an essential part of their picture of the 

There are still some little ones to whom war 
means nothing, for example — Hilde, three and 
a half years old, who looks up into the sky and 
says: "Looks at the nice aeroplane, I'd like to 
have it for Xmas." But even at this age such 
lack of understanding is exceptional. 

David, three and a half years old, com- 

plained when the alarm was given in the last 
daylight raid : "The sirens are eating me up." 
The remark shows his sensitiveness to the 
sound which, also for many adults, holds some- 
thing of the threat contained in the howling of 
a wild animal. 

His friend Dick of the same age explains 
in answer: "The sirens are in the balloons" 
which sounds like a reminder of the many 
theories about the hole of the balloons which 
many adults also held at the beginning of the 

Whenever new alarms occur the older chil- 
dren come out with memories of past ex- 

John, six years old, related one evening: 
"After the last war there was one street where 
my aunt lived and there were no houses left, 
all are bombed, only the house of my aunt is 
left. And now they build new houses." The 
term "after the last war" refers in the chil- 
dren's language to the period of the blitz be- 
fore John came to us. 

Also Janet, five years old, likes to speak 
about her past experiences. She says: "Once 
there dropped a bomb next to our house and 
we had no shelter. So we all had to lie on 
top of each other. First was my little sister, 
then I, then my mummy and daddy. I did 
not like it at all." Then she continues, smiling: 


"Do you remember the first night here when 
we all were so noisy that the Germans dropped 
a bomb on our house? But it was so very far 
away. Do you know it still?" 

Janet's first part of the story is probably a 
correct report of what had happened to her 
nearly two years ago, when she and her family 
had their house destroyed above them. The 
second part of the story contains a mixture of 
real and imaginary elements of what happened 
last year. A stick of bombs was actually 
dropped not on, but in the neighborhood of 
the Country House and not on the first night, 
but a little more than a week after the arrival 
of the children there. This is a good example 
of a child's interpretation of such a happen- 
ing. In Janet's mind the bomb was dropped 
as punishment because the children were too 
noisy. Her smile and the contradiction in the 
story itself "on our house, very far away" — 
prove that Janet is herself well aware of her 
own additions to the truth. 

She herself had at the time commented, with 
evident relief, after the raid was over: "It was 
a kind German, he did not drop the bomb on 
our house." 

Though this sounds like a rather alarming 
new conception of kindness — to drop bombs on 
other people's houses only — it means to Janet 
something completely different; the German 


bomber had, in her conception, behaved as she 
had known her parents to behave often; he had 
threatened punishment, had frightened her, but 
in the end had not carried out the threat. 

The night raid over the Country House pro- 
duced an anxiety attack on John, six and a 
half years old. He is a typical example of 
anxiousness in a child due to the nervousness 
of the mother. His mother had developed anx- 
iety states during the raids, had never gone 
to bed while an alarm lasted, had stood at the 
door trembling and insisted on the child's not 
sleeping either. John, then five years old, had 
to get dressed, to hold her hand and to stand 
next to her. At the time he developed extreme 
nervousness and bed wetting. He had quickly 
improved after separation from his mother and 
not shown any unusual behavior in raids. 

Now after an interval of more than 18 
months he has attacks of anxiety which defin- 
itely resemble those of his mother in all details. 
During the last raid, he woke up, was 
frightened, trembled and looked pale. 

He said: "I don't like bombs, why do 
they drop bombs? Where are the children?" 
He was taken out of bed and shown the chil- 
dren. "Where is Irene? Is Bertie in bed, Is 
Georgie asleep? I want to see him!" When 
back in bed he suddenly whispered: "Is big 
John still alive?" 


When asked why he worried about this, 
John said: "I saw his face." 

He meant he imagined seeing his face; John 
was not in the room in reality. 

He continued to ask: "Is Sophie in the 

After the all clear he still wanted to be 
told what was going on outside. When he 
learned that British fighters had been hunting 
a German plane, and had probably got it, he 
was not relieved. 

His worries finally transferred themselves to 
the German pilot. "I would not like to see a 
dead man, would you?" When told that the 
German airman might have been taken pris- 
oner and not killed he protested: "He is not an 
air-man, he is a Ger-man." For John, there are 
probably two very different kinds of men, one 
good, one bad and not to be confused with each 

After the night described above, for instance, 
all the bigger children talked about the attack 
on their way to school. 

Only Katrina, eight years old, skipped along 
happily in front of the others and related a 
conversation she had just had with an old 
gentleman, whom the children met every morn- 
ing: "He said: 'Lovely morning' and I told 
him School is nice again." Katrina reports 
this and runs off again. 


Mary, ten years old, the eldest girl of the 
house shakes her head moodily at such gaiety. 

She says: "I do think. Katrina forgets that 
there's a war on." 

An absolutely practical and matter of fact 
comment was made the same morning by Janet, 
five years old. 

She said: "What is the good of the Country 
House? They drop bombs in London and they 
drop bombs in the Country." 

Children's Reaction to Hitler 
An endless subject for talk which never fails 
to excite the imagination of the bigger children 
is Hitler's badness. The figure of Hitler is 
vivid to them not as that of a powerful enemy 
but as the incarnation of evil, i.e. a new 
edition of the devil. 

They never talk about the British fighting 
against the Germans but of a conflict between 
God and Hitler. They are at the age when 
their own conflicts between good and bad are 
very vivid to them, when at one moment they 
are completely "bad" and at the next swing 
over to "goodness" and intolerance of the small 
misdeeds of the younger children. These inner 
conflicts form the basis of their interest in 
world affairs. Katrina, eight years old has a 
restless evening and starts a long conversation 

before falling asleep. 


She says: "Teacher says there are angels 
and once when we were in an air raid shelter 
the Germans dropped bombs on us and we 
were very frightened. There was a lady in the 
shelter and she said there is a man sitting in 
heaven and he puts his arms out and he hides 
the people so that the Germans cannot bomb 
us. It is God. No German can do anything to 
us. Who made God? Who made everything? 
How did everything start?" She settles down 
to sleep but after a few minutes she is heard 
to laugh quietly to herself and then she whis- 
pers: "Could God get wicked one day? 
Wouldn't it be funny if God would get wicked 
and Hitler good?" 

It is easy to see that her own thoughts about 
God come from another source and have little 
or nothing in common with the teaching she 
receives in school and the religious consolation 
heard in the shelter. 

John, six and a half years old, worries about 
the same problems. 

After the groups of school children has dis- 
turbed the younger ones with their noise he 
asked: "Why are we naughty? Who tells us to 
be naughty?" and then smiling, "God tells us to 
be naughty!" When somebody answered that 
this could surely not be so, John said promptly 
"But he made the Germans. Why did he make 
them nasty Germans?" 


The same question of responsibility, this time 
not for the naughtiness of the children but for 
the outbreak of the war is repeated in another 
conversation between John and Katrina. 

John says: "I think God said to Hitler that 
there should be a war." 

Katrina answered quickly and angrily: "Oh, 
no John." 

John notices that he has said the wrong 
thing, is frightened and asks Katrina very hum- 
bly, "What did he say then?" 

The same idea of God being responsible for 
everybody good or bad is reflected in another 
conversation between Mary and Peggy and 

They ask: "Whom will God help to win the 
war, Hitler or us?" 

Before anyone else can answer, Katrina an- 
swers: "God will help both Hitler and us, be- 
cause He likes all people." 

On the other hand, this idea of bad people 
being liked is insupportable to other children. 

Marion in a happy mood on the way home 
from school sings a little song of her own, "I 
like my Georgie and I like my Alice and I 
like everybody, everybody is good!" 

Janet interrupts her: "You don't like every- 
body, you don't like Hitler." 

Marion this time is too happy to argue it 
out. She says simply: "But Hitler is so far 


away." Which means at this moment her mind 
is not troubled by the dangers of badness. 

These stories only record thoughts of the 
children about one special subject. Their minds 
are equally busy with the difficult questions of 
death, birth, marriage and religion. They even 
become conscious of the fact that they are 

Janet who is always the most explicit, re- 
marked the other day: "Whenever I think, I 
think with my head, isn't it funny." 



Why are wartime nurseries so difficult to 
run? Do so much more thought, energy and 
money have to be spent on them than seemed 
necessary in former times? 

Nursery Schools have always been planned 
as extensions of the home. They provide space 
where the home is overcrowded, safety where 
kitchens or streets are dangerous to play in, 
toys to be handled where family possessions 
have to be respected, and attention and inter- 
est from the nursery teacher where mothers are 
overworked and harassed. This was true of 
the proletarian nurseries in Middle Europe 
and in Russia. In America, on the other hand, 
where nurseries for the middle classes are no 
less frequent than elementary schools, they pro- 
vide the community life for which the child 
is ready, and which the small middle class fam- 
ily is unable to give. 

In none of these cases were Nursery Schools 
meant to substitute for the home, no more than 
a free milk scheme in schools is meant as a 
substitute for home cooked meals, than welfare 
clinics do away with the need for the mother's 
care, or child guidance clinics with the need 
for educational efforts on the part of the 


parents. All these services were simply exten- 
sions of the home, and they worked best when 
allowed to function each as one link in a chain 
of public services for child welfare. 

We are all conscious of the fact that our 
present situation is widely different. Families 
are dissolved, homes hardly recognizable as 
such, many children scattered in billets, many 
clinics closed. The Nursery schools, where they 
exist, find themselves suddenly confronted with 
the task of filling all these gaps, of fulfilling all 
the functions of child welfare rolled into one. 
In wartime, the nursery, even if not residential, 
becomes a foster home. Since most children 
have gone through long waiting periods before 
admittance to a nursery, they are harmed in 
some way by the war conditions. That means 
that the nurseries have to admit children in 
weakened bodily condition, for instance, shelter 
sleepers of twelve months standing. They ad- 
mit children who are shocked not so much by 
bombing, as by shelter life and war conditions 
in the family. Which means that, besides their 
program of ordinary education, they have to 
fulfill the functions of a convalescent home and 
school for problem children. Such tasks can 
be taken over wherever the doctor, the psychol- 
ogist, teacher and nurse combine forces. It is, 
perhaps, not widely enough recognized that 
the most difficult of these various tasks is to 


lessen the shock of the breaking up of family 
life, and to find — during the absence from the 
mother — a really good substitute for the mother 

In this respect also many nursery schools 
have tried to do their best. Attempts have been 
made in many places to break up larger groups 
into smaller ones; to assign no more children 
to one worker than would be natural in an 
ordinary family; to let, as far as possible, the 
same workers always handle the same chil- 
dren. I do not think that these attempts, nec- 
essary as they are, have been completely suc- 
cessful. In residential nurseries, especially, no 
planning of this kind does away with the fact 
that workers need off-hours during the day, off- 
days during the week, and have to have the 
nights to themselves. The mother relationship 
in these early stages, on the other hand, is based 
on a twenty-four hour attendance to the child's 
needs. Many children of two, when entering 
the nursery have never been separated from 
their mothers for one day or night. Also — 
workers are not tied to their jobs as mothers 
are tied to their children. Wherever we base 
nursery work purely on the personal tie be- 
tween the individual child and the individual 
worker, we prepare the way for possible new 
shocks of separation, and for repeated disap- 


I have seen other nursery schools despair of 
these attempts. Instead of creating mother sub- 
stitutes, they try to lay greater stress on the new 
and positive elements of nursery life itself. 
After all, the child gets more companionship 
and social life than he would at home. And 
what is lacking in mother's love might be given 
in a general atmosphere of friendliness and 
affection, in intelligent care and better educa- 
tional efforts than the untaught mother would 
have been capable of. 

I have seen astonishingly few attempts made 
to include the real mothers themselves in the 
life of the nursery. There are very few nur- 
series where mothers' visits are welcome, where 
efforts are made to bring home routine and 
nursery routine into one line. The danger evi- 
dently is not realised that the child who goes 
back and forth between home and nursery may, 
in the end, feel strange in both places. Even 
in residential nurseries no material help is 
given to make mothers' visits more frequent; nor 
to provide facilities to lengthen the duration 
of such visits. 

I once tried to explain to an official visitor 
why the nurseries I am connected with spend 
a good deal of time and planning on parents' 
visits, and gladly suffer every disturbance of 
routine to make the parents take their share in 
the life of the nursery. My visitor said that, af- 


ter all, the children could not have everything. 
"You can't have it all nice in a war." This 
evidently means that when the other needs of 
the child are provided for, love from the par- 
ents is a luxury. It is certainly nice for the 
child to have it, only wartime has temporarily 
done away with that luxury as it has with 

I had heard this same remark applied during 
the last war, referring to material things like 
sugar, fresh fruit and butter, of which con- 
tinental children were deprived. At that time 
these things were considered luxuries. Since 
then, they have been recognized as body build- 
ing materials. Today, all efforts are made to 
provide children with sugar and vitamins; ev- 
erybody is afraid of the consequences caused 
by deficiencies in this respect. At some later 
date, when knowledge of the psychic needs 
of the child is more wide-spread, we shall be 
just as frightened at the thought of the deficien- 
cies in the child's psychic development whenever 
necessary elements, like the "mother relation- 
ship," are insufficiently existent in his early 

Today the knowledge that certain types of 
mental maladjustment always coincide with the 
lack of an ordinary home life in the first five 
years, is still restricted to a few psychiatrists and 


The mother relationship of the small baby 
is still comparatively simple. The relationship is 
one-sided; the mother gives and the child re- 
ceives. At that time it seems comparatively easy 
to exchange the person of the mother for another 
one — if this person takes over completely. 

But this primitive form of love relationship 
changes before the end of the first year. On the 
basis of the "stomach love" the child develops 
a real attachment to the person of the mother. 
This new love of the child is personal, exclu- 
sive, violent, is accompanied by jealousies and 
disappointments, can turn into hate and is 
capable of sacrifice. It is directed first towards 
the person of the mother, slowly includes the 
father, takes notice of brothers and sisters in 
various ways, and leads the child into all the 
complications of early emotional life. If, at the 
height of this development, the child is sud- 
denly removed from all the people signficant 
for him, he goes through a short period of 
mourning. All his personal ties are broken. 
But since he is helpless and absolutely depen- 
dent on the strangers who now take care of him, 
he is thrown back once more into the former 
primitive stage of "stomach love". He reacts 
once more like a baby, i.e. at best to material 
comforts with material contentment. 

The emotional relations of the small child 
to his parents are of importance for his 


development in two main respects: One, that 
this childish love is the pattern for all later 
love relationships. The ability to love — like 
other human faculties — has to be learned and 
practiced. Wherever, through the absence of or 
the interruption of personal ties, this oppor- 
tunity is missing in childhood, all later rela- 
tionships will develop weakly, will remain 
shallow. The opposite of this ability to love 
is not hate, but egoism. The feelings which 
should go to outside objects remain inside the 
individual and are used up in self-love. This 
is not what we want to produce. 

The second aspect is of equal importance. 
It is this first love of the child which education 
makes use of. Education demands from the 
child continuous sacrifices. The child has to 
give up his primitive habits, to become clean, 
to lessen his aggression, to restrict his greed, 
to renounce his first sexual wishes. He is ready 
to pay this price if he gets his parents' love 
in return. If such love is not available, educa- 
tion either has to threaten or to drill or to 
bribe — all methods unsatisfactory in their re- 
sults. Our educational success in the war nurse- 
ries, therefore, will largely depend on whether 
we can succeed in creating, or conserving for 
the children, their proper emotional relation- 
ships with the outside world. 



«MW fee Aarje, keek ms! be krwefc! to fee I 




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